Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
4 Jan 2014
10:00 am

The rulers of world cricket today are the BCCI

Wesley Botton

We had a tradition in high school, which would see our hockey and rugby teams turning out against each other once a year in their respective codes.

Wesley Botton.

It was all a bit of fun, with the hooker flailing around at flyhalf, the goalkeeper shedding his padding and having a go up front and one of the teachers inevitably being dragged into the rugby game, giggling nervously as he crouched in the scrum.

As much as we all had a good laugh, the matches were not exactly memorable, and no matter which team won either fixture, nobody really cared.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) should undoubtedly take some of the blame, along with the rest of the global cricket fraternity, for our national team being subjected to a hit and giggle when they should be squaring up against the Indians in a third Test.

Top of the pile of those in the wrong, however, is the International Cricket Council (ICC) for allowing the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to become bigger than the sport.

A colleague suggested the other day that a boycott of Indian cricket would be useless, as the BCCI could generate vast sums by hosting India A v India B, and they wouldn’t lose any sleep.

The ICC, on the other hand, needs India’s financial contribution and simply cannot afford to put its foot down or dictate to the powerhouse of the sport.

Gimmicks work in India, where mix-and-match teams can be as popular as the national side. But such things are unlikely to entice South African cricket fans to the same extent, and certainly not at the expense of a five-day spectacle.

While CSA should be concerning themselves with the poor attendance of the two Tests against India, they are instead pumping resources into a weekend of stunts.

Regardless of how many people turned up last night to watch batsmen chuck a few and front- row forwards swing a bat, the rugby-cricket clash is unlikely to last very long in the memory of most sports fans.

It’s ludicrous that the ICC allows political squabbles to cut scheduled tours in half, with the BCCI twisting arms in board- rooms and robbing paying customers of the challenging contests to which they are accustomed and entitled.

More importantly, our national cricket team should never be reduced to a day of fun that equates to a schoolboy-style gimmick during the traditional New Year’s Test period, and CSA should have enough respect for its newly appointed chief executive to not mask and gag him when the big boys with the money start to throw their toys.

I could not force myself to develop any real interest in yesterday’s T20 game, despite the attempts of CSA’s marketing staff to convince us it was a worthwhile initiative.

It was fun to have a laugh as my teenage mates fumbled rugby balls and tripped each other with hockey sticks.

Watching professional sportsmen being reduced to a sideshow song and dance, however, when they should be locked in the combat of a Test series, is no laughing matter.