Thabang Moroe. Picture: BACKPAGE PIX/SAMUEL SHIVAMBU
Thabang Moroe. Picture: BACKPAGE PIX/SAMUEL SHIVAMBU

Cricket SA CEO Thabang Moroe says the nation’s failure to develop mentally strong players is one of the reasons behind the poor performances by several national teams at major tournaments recently.

National teams have performed abysmally in different sporting codes in recent weeks, and speaking on the sidelines of an event to celebrate a decade of the partnership between Cricket SA and KFC Mini Cricket‚ Moroe said the failure to produce tough sportsmen and women is one of the reasons for the nation’s slide into ignominy.

“I think it is a South African thing — we need to change it because it is a toxic culture. We are not building tough sportsmen and women, and we need to do that‚” he said.

Moroe singled out Australia cricket as an example of a nation that produces mentally strong cricket players after SA’s bitter sporting rivals were able to reinvent themselves following the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town in 2018.

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Steve Smith‚ David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were banned after the scandal.

“If you look at a team like Australia‚ they were down and out for a couple of months after the ‘sandpaper’ saga they endured following the unfortunate incident in Cape Town‚” he said.

“But you look at them play today‚ they don’t look like a team that was down and out because they are tough mentally.

“The world of cricket knows how tough those guys are mentally, and you see it with David Warner or Steve Smith.

“They walk out to bat to boos but they continue to put their hands up and say ‘we don’t care’, and they perform.”

As far as the Proteas are concerned‚ Moroe said they would review their performance in England when they return from the World Cup.

“If I didn’t feel disappointed‚ I wouldn’t be patriotic‚” he said. “We are disappointed because we were hoping for far better results and things didn’t go our way.

“What was frustrating was witnessing the body language of our team and how we got some of the simplest things wrong.

“Having said that‚ I think we just need to find better ways to deal with pressure.

“I think it is a systematic thing; it is about how we tweak one or two things in our system to ensure that we build strong and tough-minded cricketers.

“If you look at the way cricket is on the amateur side of things‚ it is very easy for players to keep moving from school or team to another because they are not getting opportunities.

“They don’t stay to fight their way. They rather move to teams that will play them at specific positions, and that cultivates a cricketer who does not know how to fight.

“That is what is telling as far as SA cricket is concerned.

“We have few individuals where‚ if they don’t get picked‚ instead of saying ‘let me give it another season and put the numbers’, they go Kolpak.

“At provincial level‚ a player will say if this coach is not playing me‚ I would rather go to another franchise.

“We have ourselves to blame and we must find a way of changing a few things and breeding tough cricketers.”

The SA women’s under-17 team failed to win a match at the 2018 World Cup in Uruguay and a few days ago their senior counterparts, Banyana Banyana, exited the World Cup in France also without winning a match.

Then the country was thrown deeper into depression when the Proteas failed to qualify for the semifinal stage of the cricket World Cup in England.

Bafana Bafana lost two of three games at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, scoring just one goal.