Cobras spitting blanks

This will sound a bit like a confessional so, forgive me. It’s been three weeks since my last column and I apologise to all who have found ways and means to make contact and remind me. But if the national players can be given ‘leave’ from media duties, then it seemed reasonable to take a bit of time off while they were putting their feet up.

Sometimes, however, something happens which would compel even a coal miner to end a holiday prematurely and return under ground for another 10-hour shift in stifling heat and back-breaking conditions. Fortunately, none of that applies to me.

The ‘stinger’ was the announcement from the Cobras that a new ‘media protocol’ had been announced. No more spontaneous interviews with players, and no more reacting to news. Forget about the prospect of promoting the players and attracting new fans, the new plan was to protect the precious Cobras players from the attentions of the hordes of Western Cape media who routinely hound them at all hours of the day.

Actually, that’s not true. The Cobras players are pretty much anonymous on the streets of Cape Town and their handlers would be better advised sending out a list of the players’ telephone numbers and e-mail addresses to local media rather than insisting that they put interview requests with players in writing – to a third party – before even thinking of writing a feature or news story.

The Cobras administration may not be aware that ‘news’ happens quickly. A sports editor will command a reporter to “get some quotes” from Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi or Vernon Philander within 20 minutes. And his response to a reporter’s “but I can’t, I have to e-mail the communications guy first” would be unprintable.

Just last season I was approached by Dolphins’ captain, Johan Louw, who was concerned by the lack of column inches in Natal newspapers dedicated to cricket. “How can we promote ourselves more in the media?” he asked.

Successful teams have no fear whatsoever. Ask the Titans and the Eagles whether you can speak to their players, and what the secrets of their success are, and there will be no shortatge of answers. Winners are proud of their achievements. Losers avoid questions and become defensive.

The Cobras have won 4, lost 11 and drawn 15 of their last 30 games in the past three seasons. They have finished last,  3rd and 5th. And now, it would appear, their new strategy is to protect their players from the hordes of media who have (not) been routinely bothering them.

If Levi, Kleinveldt and Philander, not to mention another half dozen highly talented cricketers in the ranks, have any interest in promoting themselves and their careers, then they would be well advised to politely ignore the embarrassingly misinformed tactics of their employers and start promoting themselves. Otherwise, hundreds and five-fors will go badly missed. And potential international careers, too.

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