South Africa's run of defeats

Forget transformation, urges de Villiers

Telford Vice/MWP

August 31, 2004

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Fanie de Villiers: unimpressed © Getty Images
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Fanie de Villiers, the former Test fast bowler, has appealed to the United Cricket Board (UCB) to "forget transformation" in an attempt to halt South Africa's spiral of defeats.

Sri Lanka beat South Africa by 49 runs in the fifth one-day international in Colombo on Tuesday to complete a 5-0 whitewash, and South Africa's tenth consecutive one-day defeat. That equals South Africa's record barren run, which they endured in 1994: the consequences then were Mike Procter's sacking as coach and Kepler Wessels's resignation from the captaincy.

Sri Lanka also beat Graeme Smith's team 1-0 in the two-match Test series.

A scathing de Villiers said the flaws in South African cricket originated below international level. "Myself, Kepler Wessels and Pat Symcox have been warning for a long time that the systems are not in place, the fundamentals are wrong," he lamented. "We're hoping that the mistakes we make won't cost us too much, instead of being pro-active and working out those mistakes before they even happen. We are probably the only country in the game that is not pro-active, that simply hopes we are doing things right."

de Villiers said he felt that South Africa's United Cricket Board was squandering the experience at its disposal, and that, in its attempts to stop the slide, it should sidestep the hitherto untouchable goal of racial integration in all spheres and levels of cricket. "There is so much knowledge in the system that is not being used," he said. "Gerald Majola [UCB chief executive] loves cricket, Ray Mali [president] loves cricket. Everybody loves cricket. But the people need to know that there is knowledge in the system. The previously advantaged, if they want to call us that, have the knowledge that needs to be shared. You can't not use those people.

"Let's forget transformation and get the most knowledgable people involved. People like Kepler Wessels, Fanie de Villiers, Pat Symcox, Brian McMillan and Allan Donald. Let's get them together in advisory situations, and when players like Makhaya Ntini and Herschelle Gibbs retire we can get them involved. We don't need to go the transformation route and involve people just because they were previously disadvantaged.

"Let's get the people who have played at international level for long enough to have earned the respect of the current players involved."

de Villiers was also critical of coach Eric Simons's pledge to review his position if South Africa did not show improvement, and he had sharp questions for Anton Ferreira, the UCB's coaching manager. "The players have never been the problem. If the players lose faith or form, if they are too arrogant, or negative or scared, who do you point fingers at? The coach. If I'm a player, and the coach says, `I will jump ship if they want me to,' I would pin that coach to the wall! Now that the chips are down, now you want to jump ship? What kind of coach are you?

"But the problem doesn't lie just with Eric Simons," he continued. "The problem lies with who is running professional coaching: Anton Ferreira. Whatever he has done, in the schools and the provinces and right up to international level, hasn't worked. The players are not coming through, and those who do don't stay there long enough.

"How can we struggle for five years to make Neil McKenzie a fulltime international player? The same goes for Boeta Dippenaar, Andre Nel and Mornantau Hayward. Whatever Anton Ferreira and the coaching panel have done has taken South African cricket from No. 1 in the world to No. 6 [in the official Test and ODI rankings]."

Ferreira could not be reached for comment.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Players/Officials: Fanie de Villiers | Anthonie Ferreira
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