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Former South Africa manager Mohammed Moosajee wants team to adopt ‘a unified approach’ on BLM movement

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South Africa’s former team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee has called on the national team to take a unified approach when expressing an on-field stance on the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

Moosajee was speaking at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings where he expressed his disappointment at the divided stance within the team on taking the knee.

The men’s national team have given its members the option of taking a knee, raising a fist or standing to attention before matches, Notably, all the players of colour, along with some white players, have opted for taking the knee, while others have selected alternative options. After a decade of culture camps aimed at cultivating inclusion, Moosajee expressed his disappointment that the team could not agree on a single gesture.

“Unfortunately, some current players appear to be misinformed and believe taking the knee is supporting the notion that black lives matter more,” he said. “They need to be educated so that they appreciate that taking the knee is all about a stand against racism and discrimination and supporting the notion that Black lives matter as much.

“It is a pity that the Proteas Team have not adopted a unified approach to the issue and highlights that even though we have been having discussions for a number of years already, these discussions need to continue, because we still have some way to go to get all our people to fully appreciate the injustices of the past. I would like to see a recommendation from the Ombudsman [Dumisa Ntsebeza] urging the Proteas to adopt a unified approach.”

Moosajee was involved with the national team in various roles for 16 years until 2019, first as the doctor and then combining it with the role of team manager.

He said he believed greater levels of understanding have been achieved since a camp held in 2010, which he and then-captain Graeme Smith conceptualised. Several allegations of racism during the Smith captaincy era have been made at the SJN.

“In 2010, Graeme Smith and I believed that it was necessary to build an inclusive team culture and for members of the squad to have a greater appreciation of people from different backgrounds, races and religions,” Moosajee said.

“In my view, the targets or quotas gave opportunities to people of colour and many of them proved that they could be world-class performers on the international stage”

Dr Mohammed Moosajee

“The objective of building the team culture was to build an authentic, diverse and inclusive sense of identity, with due regard to our fractured past and history. I believed that it was important for the team to talk about race, class and culture, but I was also conscious of the fact that building a team culture would not happen overnight. It required unwavering commitment, strong leadership and continuous reinforcement.”

The three-day camp was formed with information gathered from Sporting Edge and Hoko – team culture companies who assisted the New Zealand rugby team – and included expert advice from Ahmed Kathrada, a contemporary of Nelson Mandela. These specialists ran two surveys, including one with members of the public who said they believed the national rugby team, the Springboks, were better ambassadors for the country than the cricket side.

Moosajee admitted to being surprised at the survey results, “because at the time even though the Proteas had not won a World Cup, they were the top-ranked Test-playing nation and had more black players (on a percentage basis) than the Springboks.”

The outcome of the camp was a four-minute video, which was played at SJN but never released publicly. It featured Smith at the Wanderers, interspersed with a Mandela speech, an interview with rugby world-cup winning captain John Smit, and fans of all races reminding the team: “you represent me.”

According to Moosajee, the camp was successful in starting “the journey to get the team more united and in my view had positive outcomes.” Among those were that more players of colour started to be selected for the national side, although Moosajee acknowledged, “the camp was not the sole reason for this.” He credited “more diverse franchise and provincial teams, diversity amongst coaches and administrators in the affiliate members of CSA” and “targets/quotas,” as also playing a role.

But he criticised the quota system for having the “unintended consequences,” of relying on elite schools to produce players and leaving underprivileged areas in a state of neglect while also creating a comfort zone for players. “Certain players, who had become “undroppable”, because their inclusion in a team is necessary to meet the quotas / targets. A few of these players allowed their fitness levels to wane and were guilty of disciplinary misdemeanours, but these misdemeanours went unpunished, because there were concerns that the quotas / targets would not be met.”

He offered a specific example in Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has also testified at the SJN, and who Moosajee said had never passed any of the 15 skin-folds tests he had with the national team and failed numerous yo-yo fitness tests. “As opposed to being discriminated against for being black, Mr Tsotsobe benefitted from being black. An example of this is when he was initially left out of the Proteas Squad for the 2013 tour to Sri Lanka. At the time, Russell Domingo was quoted in the media as saying he had massive concerns about Lopsy’s form, fitness and possibly his work ethic. The decision to leave Mr Tsotsobe out of the touring squad was reversed by the CSA Board, as there were no other Black African cricketers in the touring squad.”
Although Moosajee stressed that he had no role in selection, he answered questions about whether he thought Khaya Zondo’s exclusion from the ODI team in India in 2015 was a result of racism, specifically by then-captain AB de Villiers. Moosajee said he was not aware of de Villiers’ influence in that selection: “From my understanding the final decision sat with the selection committee, and if we are saying that they are racist, I find it difficult because there were more people of colour on that selection committee than not.”
When referred to selector Hussein Manack‘s testimony about being pressured by de Villiers on selection and asked about white players’ influence on selection, Moosajee said: “In any team culture and environment, the environment is driven by the senior players and at that time, the senior players happened to be white. It’s different now – you’ve got Kagiso, Temba [Bavuma] as the senior players. Whether they influence actual selection is a separate debate. My understanding is that the captain should not have a vote on selection. On the captain, in my 15 years of working with AB de Villiers, I have never found him to be racist. Whether that was an unconscious bias, we can debate. And if the senior players in any team influence selection then there is a big problem in that.”

Moosajee maintained that unconscious bias and ingrained prejudice continues to contribute to divides in South African cricket in all sectors. “Some white players and administrators still need to appreciate the value of diversity, the need to level the playing fields and to break down barriers and some black players and administrators also need to recognise that they have contributed to further divisions in our societies and need to be more inclusive and recognise that good people from all our communities are prepared to be sacrificial leaders and contribute to the desperately needed transformation agenda. A fully transformed and successful team will attract sponsors, contribute to more nations wanting to play series against us and increase earnings through broadcast revenue.”

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 2021/22

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Vandersay picks up 4 for 10 in 7.4 overs as hosts bowlers run rampant

Sri Lanka 254 for 9 (Nissanka 55, Asalanka 52, Ngarava 2-46) beat Zimbabwe 70 (Kaitano 19, Vandersay 4-10) by 184 runs

Sri Lanka’s bowlers ran rampant in the early overs of Zimbabwe’s chase reducing the opposition to 20 for 3, then 31 for 5, and eventually 70 all out, decimating their hopes of chasing down 255 and claiming a series victory.

Dushmantha Chameera blasted out the first two wickets, before the spinners claimed the limelight – Maheesh Theekshana squeezing one between Sean Williams’ bat and pad, Jeffrey Vandersay taking four of his own, before Ramesh Mendis also took two. Somewhere in that cascade of wickets, seamer Chamika Karunaratne struck too, to remove the dangerous Sikandar Raza.

After 15 overs, Zimbabwe were 37 for 5, the required rate had crept above six, and the chase was essentially buried. Ryan Burl and Tendai Chatara fought briefly to put up 18 for the ninth wicket – the best stand of the innings. But it was all over by the 25th over, with Vandersay scything through the lower order.

The collapse was particularly disappointing for Zimbabwe, because their attack had operated with such discipline to keep Sri Lanka to a manageable total. Where Zimbabwe’s own batters had put up totals in the 300 range batting first in the two previous matches, Sri Lanka lurched only to 254 for 9, with each of their top eight getting to double-figures, but only Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka managing half-centuries.
Zimbabwe’s had been a collective bowling effort. Richard Ngarava claimed 2 for 46 from his nine overs while Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, and Sean Williams all claimed one wicket apiece. Aside from an 80-run opening stand between Nissanka and Kusal Mendis, Zimbabwe never let another pair prosper for long, the next-best partnership coming much later in the innings, when Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis put on 48 together.

It was Chameera who precipitated Zimbabwe’s rapid downfall, in the third over. He bowled a shortish ball outside off stump to right-hander Regis Chakabva, who edged it to slip. Then, next ball, he angled one across captain Ervine, who nicked it to the keeper. When Theekshana sent a straighter one through Williams’ defences in the eighth over, Zimbabwe had lost their three best top-order batters in the series.

After the first powerplay, Kaitano was given out stumped off the bowling of Vandersay, although the evidence that his back foot was in the air when keeper Kusal Mendis took the bails off did not seem totally conclusive. Next over, Raza spooned a catch to cover, and all of Zimbabwe’s serious batting hopes had departed.

Vandersay then took three of the five remaining wickets, and Ramesh Mendis claimed the other two. There was no substantial turn in the pitch – Sri Lanka were menacing, but not unplayable. Zimbabwe will feel they let themselves down.

In the first innings, Sri Lanka had begun steadily with the bat – Nissanka and Kusal Mendis hitting only five boundaries in the powerplay, as they strode to 43 for 0 in ten overs. As has been the case right through the series, Zimbabwe’s quicks were disciplined and sharp, though they didn’t find the early wickets they had managed in the first two games.

Perhaps sensing that he needed to raise the tempo if Sri Lanka were to near the 300 mark, Kusal Mendis was the first to depart, lofting the left-arm spin of Masakadza to long off. He was out for 36 off 51 balls. Nissanka brought up his second successive half-century of the series with a four through backward point, but was run out not long after that, thanks to an excellent direct hit from Zimbabwe’s substitute fielder.

Asalanka struck a four through third man first ball, and provided Sri Lanka’s main thrust of the middle overs even as wickets fell around him. He was strong square of the wicket as usual, and hit five fours in his 56-ball 52. It was his second fifty of the series.

Sri Lanka’s 2-1 victory pushes them up to fourth in the ODI Super League table, though they have played 18 out of their 24 games, and all other sides aside from Ireland (also 18) have played fewer. Zimbabwe are down at No. 11, on 35 points after 12 games. Only teams finishing in the top eight, effectively, gain direct qualification to next year’s ODI World Cup.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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Two West Indies players sidelined with Covid-19 at Under-19 World Cup 2022

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Onaje Amory and Jaden Carmichael are out. Kevin Wickham and Nathan Edwards are in

Two players from the West Indies squad, Onaje Amory and Jaden Carmichael, have tested Covid positive at the U-19 World Cup. The tournament’s Event Technical Committee has allowed temporary replacements Kevin Wickham and Nathan Edwards for the two players who will now serve an isolation period.
The announcement from ICC came just hours before a match that West Indies must win match to make to the quarter-finals. Offspinner Amory is the only West Indies bowler to complete all ten overs in the two games they have played so far, taking three wickets with an economy rate of 3.75. Carmichael has not yet played a game.

There are provisions at the Under-19 World Cup for fixtures to either be postponed or relocated in case of a Covid-19 outbreak. But, with West Indies having adequate replacements on hand, there was no need to take any extreme measures. Wickham and Edwards were immediately brought into XI to play against Sri Lanka on Friday but their time with the team is temporary. They will be removed from the squad as soon as the infected players are able to return.

West Indies are the third team to be affected by Covid-19 at this tournament. Four players from Zimbabwe tested positive in early January, and at least five India players returned positive tests too.

So far, West Indies have a 1-1 win-loss record at the Under-19 World Cup. They lost their opening fixture against Australia by six wickets before beating Scotland by seven wickets. If they beat Sri Lanka on Friday, they will set up a quarter-final clash against Pakistan, Zimbabwe or Afghanistan.



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Vikram Solanki leaves Surrey job after being appointed Ahmedabad IPL team’s director of cricket

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Joins Gary Kirsten and Ashish Nehra in the backroom of the new IPL franchise

Vikram Solanki has resigned from his position as head coach at Surrey CCC with immediate effect, ending a nine-year association with the club, after being recruited to join the new IPL franchise – based in Ahmedabad – as its director of cricket.

“Surrey has been an extremely valuable part of my life for the last nine years, both as a player and as a coach, making the decision to leave a difficult one,” Solanki said in a statement issued by Surrey. “I am forever grateful for the level of support that has always been afforded to me and my family during my time here. A special thank you too to Alec Stewart who has been a mentor and a guide.

“I will always remain inspired by all the interactions and learnings with players and staff I have had the good fortune of working so closely with. There are many respected friendships I will cherish for a lifetime.

“Finally, it has been a privilege to serve this great club in the small way I have, and it has been an honour to have been the head coach of Surrey for the last two years. To all the players, staff and Members, from the bottom of my heart, thank you!”

Solanki, who played 51 ODIs and three T20Is for England between 2000 and 2007 with moderate returns, had joined Surrey as a player ahead of the 2013 season. In 2016, he took on a player-cum-coach role with the Surrey Second XI. He stayed with the Second XI for the 2017 season entirely in a coaching capacity.

He became assistant head coach, to Michael di Venuto, in the winter of 2017, and following di Venuto’s departure at the end of the 2020 season, Solanki was appointed head coach – making him the first British Asian to hold such a position at any of the first-class counties.

“Taking over during a period of great uncertainty at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK, Solanki guided Surrey to the final of the 2020 Vitality Blast with a squad including 16 academy graduates,” a Surrey statement said. “During his time at the helm, seven Surrey players have featured in England men’s sides.”

Solanki was also named president of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations in March 2016, a position he holds to this day.

An announcement on Solanki’s successor as Surrey head coach will be made in due course.



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