With some luck SA cricket can get back its top spot before end of March
Should things go well‚ South Africa will regain the No. 1 test ranking before the end of the March.
But things would have to go inordinately well.
And‚ even if they do‚ the South Africans could slip to No. 2 by the end of the first week of April.
A 3-0 series triumph over India‚ the current No. 1 side‚ won’t be enough to put Faf du Plessis’ team‚ who are No. 2‚ over the top.
But should South Africa follow that with a 3-0 drubbing of the Aussies‚ they will be at the top of cricket’s totem pole — a position they last held in January 2016.
The catch is that South Africa will play four tests against Australia‚ and even a 3-1 scoreline in the former’s favour will tip them into second place and put the Indians back on top.
Getting back to No. 1 must be the top prize for South Africa in 2018‚ a year that will start with the big bangs of tours by India and Australia.
But it’s downhill from there. An away series of three tests against Sri Lanka in August and September is nothing to look forward to‚ and five one-day internationals and three T20s in Australia in November are not worth losing sleep over.
South Africans won’t have to pay much heed to cricket between early April‚ when the Aussies leave‚ and December‚ when‚ happily‚ pugnacious‚ pyrotechnic Pakistan arrive for a tour of three tests‚ five ODIs and three T20s that will stretch almost into January.
Should we look forward to the inaugural edition of the T20 Global League happening this year in the wake of its messy postponement in 2017?
It will take a lot for the suits to regain the trust of fans — nevermind broadcasters and sponsors — after they made a hash of planning for the tournament last year.
And who’s to say the game won’t be better off without another bunch of fake teams playing another fake event to win another fake trophy?
The franchise T20 competition that replaced the T20GL drew 105 448 spectators to the country’s grounds this summer‚ a significant improvement on the 63 031 who turned up a season previously.
That difference can be ascribed to the fact that South Africa’s best players‚ who had been signed up to play in the T20GL‚ featured in what was put in its place.
Would that the suits will learn from that‚ but even if they do they don’t have the time and the money required to buy the stars’ loyalty for domestic cricket.
And we could see even less of them‚ what with the suits growling aggressively about making significant changes to their memorandum of understanding with the South African Cricketers’ Association‚ which serves as the players’ trade union.
"Ultimately the people that make money for cricket is Cricket South Africa (CSA)‚ it’s not a union‚" CSA’s acting chief executive‚ Thabang Moroe‚ said last week.
Problem is‚ players are the only marketable assets CSA have. Without them‚ what will the board sell broadcasters and sponsors?
"I just have a view on how a company should be run from the management point of view and how a company needs to engage with a trade union‚" Moroe said.
"If CSA is trampling on peoples’ rights‚ the union must step in. If CSA decides to take a different direction in growing cricket‚ there is no room for a union there because we are not trampling on peoples’ rights — we are protecting the sport that we have been put in charge to administer."
Cricket-minded South Africans‚ you have been warned.