Proteas gear for England series after cricket’s off-season from hell

Lungi Ngidi (R) of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Dhanajaya De Silva of Sri Lanka (not in picture) with Quinton de Kock (L) Captain of South Africa during the 4th ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Lungi Ngidi (R) of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Dhanajaya De Silva of Sri Lanka (not in picture) with Quinton de Kock (L) Captain of South Africa during the 4th ODI between Sri Lanka and South Africa at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Image: Sameera Peiris/Gallo Images

In what was Cricket South Africa’s longest ever and most acrimonious off-season‚ two things came to the fore and owned the oval; the Black Lives Matter movement and the unravelling of Cricket South Africa’s administration.

Black Lives Matter rocked South African cricket to the core after Proteas speedster Lungi Ngidi‚ who recently signed up with Roc Nation‚ said a conversation needed to take place with regards to BLM.

His stance brought out varied responses‚ some vitriolic from former white players while there was a massive upwelling of support from former black players.

Stories of how former black players were treated in the South African cricket system came to the fore‚ shaking the game to the core.

All of this came to a head at the 3Team Cricket game on July 18 where the players and officials took the knee while wearing black armbands.

Whether this gesture will be taken on Friday when the Proteas return to action next week in the first of three T20s against England remains to be seen‚ but Proteas team director Mark Boucher said the team was happy with where they are at the moment.

Flags will be flown at half-mast for the opening T20 game against England at Newlands next week Friday while players will consider wearing black armbands in solidarity with victims of Covid-19 and Gender Based Violence.

“I have spoken to the guy [Ngidi] ho was driving the process within our set-up and he’s pretty happy that we’ve done what we’ve needed to do‚ especially at that particular game‚” Boucher said.

“The guys who were at that game are in this setup as well. From his side‚ he wants it to carry on going‚ but we had the hard chats in Skukuza and we’re pretty happy with where we are at the moment.”

CSA’s board also came apart at the seams because of the Fundudzi Report‚ a part of which led to the dismissal of former chief executive officer Thabang Moroe on August 27.

There was a raft of resignations‚ including those of former president Chris Nenzani and acting CEO Jacques Faul while the board was forced to resign in the face of ministerial intervention. Boucher said they’ve had to live with the board’s shenanigans.

“The Cricket South Africa issues are there and you can’t hide behind it. We have to try and put them behind us so that we’re in a position to bring in some good news.

“If we start playing a good brand of cricket‚ hopefully we can start changing a few perceptions about the game in the country. We’re looking forward to good press over the way that we play‚” Boucher said.

Boucher also answered the oft-asked AB de Villiers question with regards to rescinding his retirement‚ saying that the star batsman has been batting well‚ but a conversation around his availability for next year’s T20 World Cup will be had with him.

“AB’s always in the discussions if he’s playing good cricket. I haven’t had a discussion with him and he’s been playing in the IPL‚” Boucher said.

“We’ll see closer to the time of the World Cup where I’ll probably have a conversation with him and see where he’s at. It’s going to an open conversation that everybody will know about.

“I still believe he’s one of the best players in the world and I think he’s showed it in the IPL as well. If he’s a good value to bring into the team‚ then I’ll stand by what I said before.”

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