Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: South African cricket must shed its Australian fixation

South African cricket must shed its Australian fixation

South African cricket has long held a deep and at times, unhealthy obsession with Australia. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

South African cricket has long held a deep and at times, unhealthy obsession with Australia.

 

This fixation cemented itself as South Africa emerged from isolation to find a cricketing world that was set to be dominated by the men from Downunder.

 

For the players, it became about beating Australia, and for the administrators, it was about emulating them.

 

The Proteas have treated the quest to best Australia as if it were the world cup or some other similarly massive achievement, which in some ways it was.

 

Until recently South Africa hadn't won a Test series in Australia. In 2008 that came to an end when the Proteas most bombastic captain in decades and perhaps ever, Graeme Smith, led the team to success in Australia.

 

Later Faf du Plessis would lead the Proteas to their first home series win over Australia in the now infamous 'Crossing the line' series.

 

These were achievements that South African cricket fans could celebrate with relish, but it was clear while the Proteas had broken the mental stranglehold Australia had held over them, the current generation of Baggy Green, barring a few exceptional individuals, couldn't hold a candle to the team that dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s.

 

After the 2018 triumph over Australia, the Proteas seemed to go into free fall, almost as if their job was done and there was nothing left to achieve but nothing could be further from the truth.

 Two women looking excitedly at cellphone


Over the next ten years, the Proteas will have more opportunities to finally win a Major ICC tournament than ever before but to do that they need to be more than a poor clone of an outdated model of cricket team.

 

South Africa's administrators are guilty of this fixation too, making no bones about the fact that the franchise system, which took over from the traditional provincial unions, was modelled on the Sheffield Shield which has just six teams.

 

It is also quite plain that the Mzansi Super League was inspired by the Big Bash with overseas professionals limited and Cricket South Africa owning the teams outright.

 

Despite many similarities in cricketing culture and even conditions, Australia operates in a different set of circumstances.

 

South Africa should have a larger player base than Australia, but a lack of access to facilities and systemic resistance to transformation have so far prevented them from tapping into that. There is really no way that one could simply transplant Australian systems into South African cricket, nor should you want to take this action.

 

There is no cricketing country like South Africa, and while we can learn from the rest of the world to become world-beaters our teams and administrators need to tailor their strategies to our unique context.


Written by James Ricahrdson.


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