Cape Town: The chief political commentator of a London-based broadsheet and the author of an acclaimed biography of former South African-born cricket icon Basil D’Oliveira, has warned that cricket is being destroyed by an indecent obsession with money.
Speaking ahead of the South African cricket team’s tour of England in 2012, Peter Oborne said he could not understand why the Proteas are being given just three Tests and a couple one-dayers, when it is a well known that both England and South Africa are the two best teams in world cricket right now.
“Something very valuable has been lost here, and it is easy to see why. The administrators ... are transfixed by only one thing – money,” said Oborne, adding that in the short term, they stand to make a fortune, but in the longer term “are on course to destroy the game of cricket itself”.
Oborne also laments the abbreviated nature of Australia’s recent tour of South Africa.
“It was an utter tragedy ... with evenly-matched sides tied at 1-1, we were surely entitled to look forward to three more contests: thanks to the authorities, there’s no hope of that. Matters are set to get worse. Next summer, this South African team will tour England; it ought to be a brilliant tour, spread over five Tests,” he adds.
“England and South Africa are currently the two best sides in the world and at the end of a sublime summer contest, the winners would have the right to declare themselves world champions. But it is not even clear that the visit of the South Africans is the main event of the summer, which starts off with a three-Test contest (for England) against West Indies, followed by an inexplicable series of one-day games against Australia ... which degrades the significance of the famous Ashes rivalry, Oborne writes.
“South Africa only arrive in July, at which point they will play three hasty Tests, and a string of one-day contests, before scuttling off in the middle of September,” he adds.
“We have destroyed our long-term capital in search of easy money ... administrators have started to treat (Test cricket) with discourtesy bordering on contempt.”
Next year’s three-Test tour will be South Africa’s shortest of England in many years: there were five in 1998 (England won 2-1), five in 2003 (drawn 2-2) and four in 2008 (the Proteas won 2-1).
All of them, needless to say, were extremely close and competitive.