JOHANNESBURG – I must admit, I cannot get enthused about the Mzansi Super League this year.
Last year’s competition had its moments, but overall it wasn’t particularly exciting. I can’t remember anything that stood out particularly. That’s no discredit to the players. They gave it their all, and will do so again this year.
However, it’s not the most important event happening in South African cricket.
Typically, it was Mark Boucher who put matters into perspective.
Boucher, in all his years as a player and recently in his role as coach of the country’s most successful domestic team of the last decade, the Titans, has never been one to mince his words.
“There’re bigger issues that need to be dealt with,” he said when asked if the MSL can help to change the sense of ill-feeling there is around cricket in this country at the moment. “A lot of people may look at (the MSL) and say we are sugar-coating the whole situation that Cricket SA finds itself in at the moment,” said Boucher.
“I wouldn’t read too much into this; people love T20 cricket, it’s (about) new faces and new teams. It will be well supported.
“But we have to be very careful about putting too much emphasis on this because I think there are bigger problems that need to be sorted out and hopefully sorted out soon, for the good of cricket in our country and world wide.”
Those a very strong words from someone who played over 400 matches for South Africa.
Cricket SA’s Members Council – made up of the provincial presidents – the Board of Directors, the chief executive, and the CSA president of the organisation would do well to heed them.
Boucher described reading perspectives from overseas about SA cricket at the moment as “sad”.
South African cricket doesn’t have the kind of leadership it requires right now. There’s little honesty and zero clarity.
Over the next few weeks you’ll read statements from Cricket South Africa about wonderful viewership figures; commentators on the SABC (who are showing the MSL matches exclusively) will tell you how you “must get to the ground to experience the greatest party in South African sport”; “influencers” will go on social media and dance and shout about how wonderful the MSL 2.0 is, how it’s this, that and the other.
When that happens, it will be crucial to remember Boucher’s words.
South African cricket is in deep, deep trouble and some urgent, drastic changes are required at the highest levels of its leadership.
The MSL won’t fix everything that’s wrong with local cricket; in many ways it’s one part of the many, many problems CSA is facing right now.
So if you want, enjoy it. I believe there are a lot of tickets available for tonight’s opening match at the Wanderers between the Jozi Stars and the Cape Town Blitz.
But remember, the MSL is all rather superficial.
South African cricket has “bigger issues that need to be dealt with”.