Successful U-19 World Cup can help CSA's floundering image

Acting Cricket SA chief executive Jacques Faul is aiming high.
Acting Cricket SA chief executive Jacques Faul is aiming high.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

In setting the tone for the launch of the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup‚ Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Jacques Faul thought it appropriate to get on the front foot on Thursday.

“… and a special welcome to our friends in the media‚” said Faul with a smile and to much laughter at Willowmoore Park.

It was a self-deprecating stab at the organisation‚ as his predecessor Thabang Moroe’s list of misdemeanours included revoking some journalists’ accreditation earlier this month.

Faul knows all too well that CSA need to restore their reputation and one way of helping them along that path would be to stage an U-19 CWC for the ages. Certainly one without negative headlines.

“Sport can be the biggest social worker and diplomat if used correctly‚” Faul reminded in his welcoming address in which he also highlighted the significance of the tournament in setting the course for players’ fledgling careers.

The tournament will see 16 teams divided into four pools‚ with the top two progressing to the next stage while the bottom two will contest the plate section.

The tournament will also feature first-time invitees Nigeria and Japan.

“We haven’t made it easy for them‚” admitted the ICC’s cricket general manager Geoff Allardice as he highlighted the tough pool the rookies are in.

Former national team fast bowler Makhaya Ntini also gave the thumbs up to the new entrants. “It is about giving opportunity and they will learn from this experience‚” noted Ntini.

On the question of learning‚ Ntini reached into his personal experiences to get the point across.

“You must learn from the older players. It is about getting the little things right. Pat Symcox used to tell me exactly how to pack his bag correctly‚” recalled Ntini.

Another former SA U-19 graduate‚ Wayne Parnell‚ had less than fond memories of his time in the team when they played in Malaysia in 2008.

“Ray [Jennings‚ the coach] had us up at 6am and we had to go for a run around Kuala Lumpur. Then we had to go play our games and after that we had supper and went to bed. He was like a schoolmaster‚ it wasn’t fun.”

The tournament will be played between January 17 and February 9 in Bloemfontein‚ Benoni‚ Potchefstroom and Kimberley and will comprise 48 matches‚ of which 20 will be televised.