Norman’s good intentions

As president of Cricket South Africa, Norman Arendse clearly takes his duties and responsibilities seriously. Although the last week of fighting and arguing was deeply embarrassing to everyone involved in the game, it could be interpreted as evidence of Arendse’s passion.

People who believe in the old saying that sometimes you have to be “cruel to be kind” may believe that Arendse’s determination to humiliate the game and make it the laughing stock of gossip columns countrywide was just his way of monitoring CSA’s transformation policies.

There is much for everyone to learn from the events leading up to the team’s departure for Bangladesh. Why does the president believe he can somehow invoke the powers of the General Council to help run the day-to-day affairs of the professional game?
The Genco appointed a board of directors to run CSA much in the way a monarch might appoint a government to run a country.

The only way the president of CSA can involve himself in the running of professional cricket is to gather the Genco for an extraordinary general meeting and then persuade them to pass a motion of no-confidence in the entire board of CSA directors, and thus sack them all, including chief executive Gerald Majola.

Of course, the last week hasn’t been about Arendse and Majola and who is right and wrong between them, or at least it shouldn’t have been. It should have been about the selectors. CSA has two independent, non-executive directors on its board – Thandi Orleyn and FirstRand chief executive, Paul Harris, and it was Harris who made this point during the weekend.

What message is being sent to the selectors when their choice is vetoed? Trust and communication breaks down completely. The selectors are good people, they are trying to do the best for cricket. They are not discriminatory and to imply that they are not acting in the best interests of cricket is completely unfair,” Harris said.

“The Genco appointed the CSA to run professional cricket and the CSA must then trust the selectors to do their job. That is not happening at the moment,” Harris said.

Finally, to the most confusing aspect of Arendse’s good intentions. ‘Transformation’, as defined by the Collins dictionary, is: “Change or alteration, especially a radical one.”

Arendse was most certainly radical when he selected his own squad and attempted to have it released to the media behind Majola’s and the selectors’ backs on Monday. In fact, that may well go down as the most radical thing any president of CSA has ever done.

But the two changes that he made to the ‘official’ squad to form the ‘Arendse squad’ were quite possibly the least radical anybody in South Africa could have come up with. Herschelle Gibbs in for Neil McKenzie and Charl Langeveldt in for Andre Nel.

Gibbs and Langeveldt? Herschelle has over 300 international caps and Langers has been established international cricketer for five years and has earned over 50 one-day caps.

Where were Lonwabe Tsotsobe and Yousuf Abdullah in Arendse’s squad? Where was Henry Davids and Ahmed Amla?

At the beginning of the week, Arendse spoke of “giving the youngsters a chance…if not against Bangladesh, then when?”

His solution was to recall two 33-year-olds, one of whom – Herschelle – is the oldest nationally contracted player and will celebrate his 34th birthday on the 23rd of this month.

Arendse has been a little too quick to label people as ‘anti-transformation’, especially some white people, and he appears not to care that he offends and causes great distress to those people. I wonder how he might feel should his preference for Gibbs and Langeveldt be questioned on grounds of race. All three, after all, are coloured and the inclusion of the players would be doing quite the opposite of ‘transforming’ the squad. In fact, it would be the most blatant case of window dressing since Jake White made Chilliboy Ralapele captain of the Springboks for one game.

We most certainly haven’t heard the last of Norman Arendse and, no doubt, there will be more presidential interference in selection while he has the job.

Let’s just hope that his good intentions come across a little more clearly in future.

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