Cricket South Africa interim board chairman Dr Stravos Nicolaou says it is important to make a statement against the so-called ‘Big Three’ countries to continue growing the game in less wealthy cricket nations.
Speaking to Sport24, Nicolaou further voiced CSA’s disappointment and frustration at Cricket Australia pulling out of their proposed tour of South Africa at the end of the month.
The Australians were due to face the Proteas in three Test matches under an extremely secure bio-bubble conditions, but cited the second wave of infections as too big of a risk to travel to SA.
The cancellation of the tour meant huge financial loss for CSA, while the organisation missed out on an opportunity to obtain much-needed revenue in hosting the series.
‘There is a lot of reflection that needs to take place on a decision like this, so that we understand the broader long-term consequence on the sustainability of cricket,’ Nicolaou said.
‘As a cricket fraternity, we are trying to broaden the interests of the game. We are trying to decentralise it away from the superpowers to make it the favourite sport of more people and embrace inclusivity around the world.
‘If I look at our own continent, Africa watches South African sporting channels in many instances. So, you’ve denied the African viewers the possibility of seeing one of the best sides, Australia, in a much-anticipated series against South Africa.
‘What you’re doing is not broadening or polarising the game and that cannot be in the best interest of cricket.
‘There’s a lot that can be learned from soccer, a sport that was in similar position 50 or 60 years ago, and look what’s happened now. Look at the talent that’s been developed on our continent, players like Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and many others.
‘That’s because the sport was broadened, and less resourced nations were given the opportunity to compete. I’m afraid we are not doing that with cricket.
CSA director of cricket Graeme Smith last month said that the leadership at the ICC needs to be addressed in order to avoid wealthy nations calling the shots at the expense of countries like South Africa, who suffer severe financial loss in the process.
CSA also lodged an official dispute with the ICC over Cricket Australia’s decision to opt out of the tour. According to Nicolaou it is important that the ICC and the ‘Big Three’ realise the effect they have on less wealthy cricket nations.
‘I think we do need a make a statement for and on behalf of the less wealthy, not-so-well-resourced cricket-playing nations – that when these unilateral decisions are taken, they have consequences and affect the “weaker” nations more than they do the stronger nations,’ the chairman added.