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SJN hearings – ‘If there was a clique, we don’t have any evidence of it’

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This came in response to former player Roger Telemachus’ testimony that a group of senior white players had a big hand in selection at the 2007 World Cup

Cricket South Africa has not been able to find “any evidence” that a clique of players influenced selection in the past, and stands by the robustness of its current selection policy, which came into effect in 2014. That was the testimony of Eddie Khoza, CSA’s acting head of cricket pathways, who appeared at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings on Thursday and responded on a variety of issues including controversies in team selection.

Asked specifically about Roger Telemachus’ assertion that a group of senior white players known as the “big five” had a big hand in selection at the 2007 World Cup, Khoza, who was not working for CSA at that time, said it was difficult to corroborate some of Telemachus’ allegations.

“I do respect Mr Telemachus, he is one of the players who played for the Proteas. But the issue of a clique that controlled selection may not be entirely true, because of the policies we have in place,” Khoza said. “From where I am sitting, we tried to verify the statements that he made. We couldn’t go to Goolam (Rajah, the former team manager who died of Covid-19 earlier this year). We cannot verify some of the assertions. I have to have the confidence that the policy was followed in terms of what needed to be done. If there was a clique, we don’t have any evidence of it.”

Khoza conceded the ombudsman’s assistant Sandile July’s point that if there was a “big five”, the players in that clique would not have labelled themselves as such, and that because there was no formal complaint laid at the time does not mean that the experience of players of the likes of Telemachus is invalid. But, he said, things are different now. “Things have changed. We have certain mechanisms we have put in place to detect certain issues,” Khoza said. “Our relationship with SACA (the South African Cricketers’ Association) is also at a different level. If any player cannot even speak to the union themselves to say I have this issue with CSA, I will hear from SACA.

“At the time of Roger Telemachus, you have to accept that certain things might not have been in place to bring some of these concerns to the fore. It’s very unfortunate. I want to make sure everybody that comes through cricket has a positive experience. It was saddening to me listening to some of these former players, who I regard as my heroes, to hear that they went through some of these issues.”

CSA’s lawyer, Aslam Moosajee, who led Khoza through his testimony, acknowledged that “Roger Telemachus may have suffered from the fact that prior to 2014, there were no clear guidelines on who was ultimately responsible for selection”.

The 2014 policy, which excludes the captain from having a vote in selection, came into place after Hussein Manack, a former selector who also appeared at the SJN, proposed that CSA formalise the process. Manack’s testimony focused largely on the non-selection of Khaya Zondo for an ODI in India back when AB de Villiers was captain – de Villiers was adamant that an out-of-form David Miller play ahead of Zondo. Khoza said not picking Zondo at the time was a “missed opportunity, especially with the challenges we are faced with trying to encourage black African batters to come to the fore. At the time, Zondo was performing. If we would have taken the opportunity then, how many aspirations of young cricketers would we have reached out to?”

He clarified that a formal complaint was lodged in the Zondo instance and that CSA put in place a subcommittee to investigate. “They felt it was unfair but not on the basis of race,” Khoza said. “But we still missed an opportunity.”

Khoza maintained that selection is a complex and subjective process, and that CSA is continually refining its process. “Selecting is a very contentious issue. It doesn’t matter which sport. When it comes to cricket, there’s different views because you are not only playing here at home but you are also playing away and the strength of the type of combinations you might find might differ,” he said. “It’s an issue that’s why we normally leave it to independent people to facilitate for us. We need to make sure they are assertive enough and the bridge between them and the players is brought closer so that there is a better understanding.”

The hearings are expected to conclude tomorrow, with the end of CSA’s submission and a guest appearance by Michael Holding. Among those whose responses have not been heard are director of cricket Graeme Smith and former captain AB de Villiers. Both have submitted written affidavits, which have not yet been made public.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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BBL11 2021-22 – Bowling attack gives Melbourne Renegades hope of revival

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The batting remains questionable and they will be looking for the youngsters to develop

Captain Nic Maddinson
Coach David Saker

Squad
Cameron Boyce, Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Josh Lalor, Shaun Marsh, Jono Merlo (replacement player), James Pattinson, Mitch Perry, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, James Seymour (replacement player), Will Sutherland, Nic Maddinson, Reece Topley (Eng), Unmukt Chand (Ind), Mohammad Nabi (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg)

In Nic Maddinson, Jono Merlo, James Seymour, Reece Topley, Unmukt Chand, Zahir Khan
Out Beau Webster, Peter Hazloglou, Jon Holland, Benny, Howell, Noor Ahmed, Imran Tahir, Imad Wasim

Last season

It was another disastrous season for the Renegades finishing last for the second straight year. They won their first match and then lost seven in a row. Their batting was abysmal, bowled out for less than 90 on three occasions and 111 in another match against Adelaide. The bowling was nowhere near as effective as season’s past and they struggled to find a consistent unit as they mixed and matched their overseas players. There was one bright spot as they produced a brilliant chasing win over Melbourne Stars late in the season. Mackenzie Harvey starred smashing 47 not out from 21 balls to give a glimpse into the future.
International impact
Renegades have been severely impacted by both Australia selection and injury. Nic Maddinson‘s selection in the Australia A side to face England Lions means the new Renegades captain won’t get a chance to lead his new club until their fourth game at the earliest. Marcus Harris is set to miss most of the season due to Test duty. Aaron Finch is in doubt for the early games due to his ongoing knee issue while Shaun Marsh is set to miss at least half the tournament due to a calf tear. England does have tour of West Indies in the new year and Afghanistan is scheduled to visit Bangladesh but it is unknown if the likes of Reece Topley, Mohammad Nabi or Zahir Khan will need to leave the BBL early.
Player to watch
Reece Topley is an important recruit for Renegades and has a chance to make a serious statement to England selectors ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia next year. Fellow Englishman Harry Gurney was a key part of Renegades’ run to the title three years ago and Topley has a similar opportunity to cause havoc on the inconsistent home surface of Marvel Stadium.

Key stat (Gaurav Sundararaman)
Renegades were the worst bowling unit in the previous BBL edition. Their bowling economy rate of 8.61 was the highest among all teams and their death bowling economy was 11.24. If Renegades want to play finals, this is an area they need to focus on. Their attack certainly looks stronger this season

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Chris Gayle farewell on the cards with Jamaica set to host West Indies-Ireland series

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The series will comprise three ODIs and a one-off T20I, all at Sabina Park

West Indies will play three ODIs and a T20I against Ireland in Jamaica from January 8 to 16, the CWI has announced, with the possibility that the standalone T20I will be used as a farewell match for Chris Gayle.

While Gayle will not be part of the ODI squad, with the series counting towards 2023 World Cup qualification through the Super League, the one-off fixture at Sabina Park could be used as his farewell game. ESPNcricinfo understands that a decision has yet to be made on Gayle’s inclusion but that the issue will be up for discussion at the next meeting of CWI’s board of directors later this month.

“It’s whether collectively we all feel that it’s appropriate for him to have one last game at home to say farewell in a one-off game,” Johnny Grave, CWI’s chief executive, told the Mason and Guest radio show in Barbados last month. “That Ireland series would represent that opportunity.

“It would certainly be appropriate, as far as I can see it, to treat our players and give them the opportunity to bow out – especially players like Chris who have had unbelievable careers and won trophies for the West Indies.”

Ireland will travel to the Caribbean on December 31, immediately after their series against USA which starts on December 22 and comprises two T20Is and three ODIs. They have already named their squads for both tours, with Kevin O’Brien left out and David Ripley taking temporary charge as interim head coach.
Ireland last toured the Caribbean in 2020, drawing the T20I series 1-1 and losing the ODI series 3-0. Sabina Park was also the venue for one of the finest moments in Irish cricketing history, their victory over Pakistan in the 2007 World Cup on St Patrick’s Day.

“We are pleased to be returning to the Caribbean where we have so many great memories,” Richard Holdsworth, Cricket Ireland’s performance director, said. “The World Cup Super League is a crucial set of fixtures for Ireland as we attempt to qualify for the next Cricket World Cup, and – if the series in 2020 is anything to go by – we look forward to a highly competitive series in January.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98



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Bangladesh tour of NZ BCB approves Shakib Al Hasan’s request to skip New Zealand tour

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Nazmul Hassan says BCB has no problem with players wanting a break, but says it should happen via official channels

BCB president Nazmul Hassan said on Monday that the board has accepted Shakib Al Hasan‘s leave request to skip the New Zealand tour for which Bangladesh are scheduled to leave later this week. Some days ago, Hassan claimed that Shakib only informed them “unofficially” of his reluctance to be on the tour, and hours later, Shakib reportedly had requested the board by handing over a letter officially.

“We have accepted his request,” Hassan said. “We have been saying this for a long time that we have no objection if a player wants to take a break or rest, but it has to be informed officially. The thing is, we want to be informed about such a decision in advance as it is difficult for us if it is informed suddenly. From January, if anyone wants a break, he has to inform us in advance so that we can prepare alternatives.”

This is the third time in 2021 that Shakib has skipped a tour for Bangladesh. He opted out of the white-ball tour of New Zealand in March due to paternity leave before missing the two Tests against Sri Lanka in April to play in the IPL.

Hassan felt Shakib should have asked for the leave officially, rather than informing them verbally.

“This [the confusion] is not embarrassing, to be honest. We simply didn’t know about it, officially,” Hassan said. “The thing is, these things have always happened unofficially. Now, to avoid confusion, we are emphasising that these matters should be official.”

Bangladesh’s tour of New Zealand includes two Tests, part of the World Test Championship, beginning on New Year’s Day. The team will leave on December 9 to complete quarantine and then play practice matches.



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