Just when South African cricket looked like it was recovering from the many set backs from last year, another bombshell has hit. This time there will be casualties. There is unlikely to be any final warnings, something has to give.
Norman Arendse is the president of Cricket South Africa and he refused to approve the selectors decision over the 14 man squad for the tour to Bangladesh. “ If two of the players selected for Bangladesh are not fit and will undergo fitness tests on Monday, why don’t we wait until Monday before we announce the squad?” Arendse said, referring to Neil McKenzie and Andre Nel. This is a fair and valid point put across by the president. However he went on to state: “My role is to ensure that the CSA transformation policy is complied with.” This is where it all got messy.
Mickey Arthur’s reply to the above was: “As a coach and a selector I share Norman’s determination to push the transformation agenda but, at the same time, I want to be able to look every player in the eye and tell him: I believe you’re the best player for this position.” One wonders which team Mickey Arthur has been coaching as the team that he is in charge of regularly has players that the majority of SA will say are not the best players in that position. This statement can easily be backed up by statistics as can be seen here.
As the day progressed it came to light that Arendse had laid charges against Arthur accusing him of being “abusive and disrespectful” and “cocking a snook at his employers’ policy of (racial) transformation.” A bit later on in the day Arthur laid a counter-charge of “disrespectful and abusive behaviour” against Arendse, stating “I have no problem with transformation and I am very willing to work for transformation, however, seven players of colour in a squad of 14 is a target and not a policy.” To top off what is more than likely his last roll of the dice Arthur stated “We have sent the same squad to him (Arendse) for approval, the ball is now in his court.”
If his foot was in the proverbial grave, he certainly wasn’t scared of going 6 foot under when he indicated “Yes, there is animosity between us. I told him he was power-crazy and egotistical but I never swore at him. I can say now that he regularly sends back teams” stated Arthur which might have been to confirm the allegations that Arendse was responsible for the dropping of Kallis and Hall in the Twenty20 tournament mentioned here.
There are few people that have taken of the administration and won. Arthur has jumped on that boat and if any players want to be on board, they must be prepared for the worst, there is no fairy tale ending where the administration backs down and the good guys win.
The real solution would have been to take a side focused on transformation to Bangladesh and a more experienced side to India. It might not be the ideal solution but it would have saved Arthur the DCM (Don’t Come Monday) letter which might be in the post already.