South Africa’s World Cup-winning rugby captain Francois Pienaar has been appointed to a CSA four-person panel to conduct an independent review of all national teams. Pienaar, whose team won the trophy in 1995, will be joined by former Test batsman Adam Bacher, chairperson of CSA’s HR committee, Dawn Mokhobo, and sports physiologist Dr Ross Tucker. There is no deadline for the committee to reveal their findings.
Under particular scrutiny will be the post of Russell Domingo, South Africa’s national coach, who faced a volley of questions over his future when the team exited the World T20 in the first round. On their return, CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat said the organisation intended to undertake a review, as it does every year, before making any decisions. However, Lorgat emphasised that “with every passing ICC event that we come back from below expectation, the reviews should get tougher,” and the unveiling of the new panel is proof of that.
But the review will not focus solely on one man. It will examine both the men’s and women’s teams and Under-19 side, who all struggled in a summer of discontent for South African cricket. The men’s Test team lost back-to-back series against India and England and with it their No.1 ranking. While they earned ODI series wins against the same opposition, that meant very little considering their World T20 failing.
The women’s team made history by beating England and West Indies for the first time in T20s but could not take that form into a major tournament and the U-19s looked out of their depth at the World Cup in Bangladesh, where they could not defend their title and lost to Namibia and Zimbabwe in the process.
“Our recent performances resulting in early exits for all our national teams at the World T20 and the Under-19 World Cup is clearly not acceptable,” Haroon Lorgat, CSA CEO said. “This calls for us to conduct a clinical review into the national set-up and performances of the various teams. While we plan to do this as soon as practically possible, we do not intend to place a deadline on this important piece of work as we presently have capable people and contracts in place. We have time to do a thorough review before the board makes any decisions about the future.”
South Africa do not play any cricket until June, when they have a triangular series in the Caribbean also involving Australia, and they do not play Test cricket until August, when they host New Zealand. With the domestic season drawing to a close this weekend, CSA has also begun a review of that set-up, which has undergone recent change. The 2015-16 summer was the first in which the transformation targets (six players of colour of which three must be Black African) required half the team to be non-white.
CSA has previously turned to rugby experts to assist. Henning Gericke, for example, was the Springboks’ psychologist and accompanied the cricket team to the 2011 World Cup while former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis, who was also the team manager of the 1995 team, was tasked with taking Herschelle Gibbs through a life-skills program in 2001, after Gibbs’ repeated breaches of discipline.