CSA run out in clash of cultures

A prominent commentator said: “Everybody knew nothing would happen until after BCCI’s annual general meeting on September 29." (AFP)

A prominent commentator said: “Everybody knew nothing would happen until after BCCI’s annual general meeting on September 29." (AFP)

The harder Cricket South Africa attempts to dig itself out of the current India "tour crisis, the further it appears to slide into a hole that, the Indians claim, is of its own making.

CSA's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, met Sanjay Patel, the honorary secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), in Dubai at the beginning of the week in an attempt to resolve the impasse between the boards concerning India's end-of-year tour of this country.

With nobody at either board speaking publicly, or even off the record, journalists were left making calls and even doorstepping administrators in an attempt to find out what chance there was of India actually arriving on these shores. And, if they did, what chance there was of it being anything more than the briefest of visits.

"Three things you should be aware of," a prominent commentator told the Mail & Guardian. "First is that the term 'honorary' means 'has no power or authority' in Indian cricket.
So meeting with Patel is a waste of time. He won't even be there much longer.

"Second is that [BCCI board president] N Srinivasan actually hates administrators being in the limelight. He might be crazy for power but he believes politics and fighting should be done inside the office, not for other people to see or hear.

"Third is that he hates 'posturing'. He believes CSA was posturing when they released fixtures and it was posturing in public when Lorgat met Patel in Dubai," the commentator said. "Everybody knew nothing would happen until after BCCI’s annual general meeting on September 29. It was ignoring this information; it was seen as disrespectful." 

Recurring

"Disrespect" is a recurring theme when investigating the deterioration in the once "special" cricketing relationship between the countries but much of it appears to come from a misunderstanding of culture and methodology rather than any deliberate policy of disrespect.

CSA's lead independent director, Norman Arendse, returned from India in March this year after a well-meaning attempt to gauge the veracity and/or extent of India's concerns over the possible appointment of Lorgat as chief executive. When asked about the outcome of the meeting by journalists, he admitted that the concerns were real without expanding on details. Honest, open and transparent.

"That was basically revealing the confidential contents of a private interboard meeting. They did not expect that to happen and some of the BCCI felt that was a deliberate attempt to embarrass them," the commentator said.

Another issue on which the two boards have clashed is the importance of logistical planning. Whereas CSA felt it was a matter of the utmost urgency to have at least five months in which to plan the Indian tour, the BCCI take a bizarre pride in leaving everything until the last minute.

"That is the Indian way; it was always like that. CSA have worked with the BCCI long enough to know this. Why did they try to force their hand by announcing the itinerary before it was approved? The feeling is that, if CSA want India's money but do not want to work their way, then they must take the consequences," the commentator said.

A recent, desperate clutching at straws by some South African optimists concerned the news that India's general elections next year may coincide with the 2014 Indian Premier League in March-April. The Indian government is not enamoured with the BCCI or the IPL for its tax avoidance ways so, if South Africa could host the IPL once, then they could do so again, right? Perhaps the BCCI might soften its stance towards CSA as a result?

Sri Lanka

"Not a chance," the commentator said. "The elections have not even been announced. If that situation arose then Sri Lanka is right next door. They have three brand-new stadiums and all the infrastructure needed. Sri Lanka Cricket would roll over to host the IPL."

Meanwhile, India is hosting South Africa’s representatives in this year's Champions League T20. The Lions and the Titans, last year’s domestic finalists, will line up against the domestic champions and/or runners-up from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, West Indies, Australia and the IPL in the most lucrative tournament most of them will ever have played in. Victory would be worth around a million rand each.

The Titans face the best T20 team in the world, IPL champions Chennai Superkings, as well as Brisbane Heat, Trinidad and Tobago, and a qualifier. The Lions face no less of a challenge against the Rajasthan Royals, the Perth Scorchers and the mighty Mumbai Indians as well as another qualifier.

The Punjab capital, Mohali, is one of four venues being used, the others being Ahmedabad, Ranchi and the stunning tourist attraction Jaipur – the 'Pink City', full of temples and palaces. There is an element of romance and adventure about the tournament, reinforced by the number of players who have never before performed on an international stage. Twitter was abuzz with images of them flying business class and being welcomed in five-star hotels.

This is a welcome reminder of what cricket used to be about: not the lie-flat beds and swanky accommodation but the thrill of competition and the innocence of an era when games were played between bat and ball and won by runs and wickets, not political points.

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