Tabloid administration

From time to time people ask whether there’s ever been a temptation to try and cash in on player ‘indiscretions’ and sell three-in-a-bed stories to tabloid publications for a quick buck. But that was never what interested me about sports journalism in the first place and I’m pleased to say I have never, ever lost sight of that fact.

Besides, what’s so interesting about three people sharing a bed? Real journalists operate by an extremely simple code – it’s called ‘public interest.’ And that’s all you write or speak about.

How do you define what is in the public interest? Here’s a good start: “If an individual, or group of individuals, has made a financial or emotional investment in a sportsman or team, and that investment proves to be compromised or even fraudulent, then it is in the public interest to expose the reason why.”

So extra-marital affairs and other high jinx associated with youth are, by and large, irrelevant unless they materially affect performance. A team which promises to “leave no stone unturned” in pursuit of excellence, and then routinely breaks curfews and drinking regulations during a tournament in which thousands of fans have invested heavily, both financially and emotionally, must expect their behaviour to be reported.

Sports administrators, meanwhile, should be asking themselves an even easier question. Presuming they became involved in the first place because of a love for the game and a desire to improve it, they need only ask before every action: “Is what I am doing likely to improve the game?”

The men and women who run cricket at Gauteng and Cricket South Africa have disgraced themselves and everybody else in the country with a love of the game during the last two weeks. Worse still, they have embarrassed themselves and the rest of the country in the eyes of the world.

Instead of being motivated by the interests of the game, they have been driven by personal ambition and pride. At what point did they ever remind themselves of why they started in the job? There can be no doubt about their behaviour damaging cricket. Very, very long term damage. But, wound up in their disgusting power struggle, they have lost sight of what they are supposed to be doing and why they are supposed to be there.

For those of you who (understandably) don’t know what’s going on and why international cricket has been removed from The Wanderers this summer, here’s a brief synopsis.

Gauteng made an unnecessarily aggressive and provocative approach to CSA and its chief executive, Gerald Majola. about the terms of hosting the IPL. They had very good reason to question. They are constitutionally entitled to ask questions. They could have done it far more subtly.

CSA and Majola, guardians of the moral high ground, reacted like spoilt, petulant children. Not only did they refuse to answer questions, but they demanded that questions were “unconditionally” withdrawn. Among many problems with that approach is that Majola’s and CSA’s dealings with the IPL will now have to be made public. And those dealings were not perfect. They could never have been, given the time constraints.

Instead of treating the GCB with the constitutional respect they are entitled to, notwithstanding their wretched aloofness, CSA has behaved with a petulance to rival the worst, most spiteful school playground. The Wanderers is the country’s only cricket stadium worthy of reckoning amongst the best in the game. Now, so say CSA, it will not host England this summer.

If that action could be condoned, by madmen, then even the insane could never endorse the spiteful, vindictive and destructive move by CSA to ‘shuffle’ the fixtures for September’s Champions Trophy in order to ensure that the Proteas will play all three of their qualifying games at Supersport Park instead of at the Wanderers. The final, too, has been moved by the obsequious ICC – at CSA’s request – to Supersport Park.

It is obnoxious, puerile and sickening. Grow up – all of you.

Appoint a team of mediators, sit down in a room together and sort it out. International cricket belongs at the Wanderers and CSA should be proud to have it there. Sadly, Gauteng’s leaders can be smug to the point of instant wretching. But competent leaders, never mind great ones, rise above that. Just answer the questions, or ‘accusations’ as you see them, and move on.

Your job is to work for the betterment of cricket. Remember that?

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