I wish to give something back to the game - Hudson
Andrew Hudson, South Africa's newly appointed convener of selectors, sees his role as one that will allow him to "give something back to the game". The former international batsman said that since cricket formed such an important part of his life, his new function with the national set up was a "huge privilege, an opportunity that shouldn't be missed and something I am very excited about doing."
Although Hudson is still basking in the glow of being appointed to the most senior role in cricket selection in the country, he is being careful not to see the position through rose-tinted lenses. "I am going in with my eyes open," he said, when asked if he had accepted a poisoned chalice of sorts.
Hudson's predecessor, Mike Procter, was sacked along with the entire selection panel, after a slump in South Africa's results in January this year. Before Procter, Joubert Strydom headed the committee. His tenure is best remembered for his spat with then Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse over the dropping of Jacques Kallis for the inaugural World Twenty20.
Despite the poor record of previous conveners, Hudson believes the new "refined" structure of the committee should prolong his tenure in the position. "The rest of the committee now comprises only of members who are employed by the game in some form," he said. "The coach is obviously directly involved, Kepler Wessels is the batting consultant and Shafiek (Abrahams) represents the High Performance Centre." The previous committee was made up of the convener, the coach (Arthur), and two other members, known as non-executive members - Winky Ximiya and Mustapha Khan.
The function of the non-executive members was to liaise with franchises and keep tabs on performances. They would then filter that information to the main panel to keep the talent flow to the national side constant. While there was a general feeling that this may not have been happening as it should have, all Hudson said was the system was not "efficient enough" and that the new structure will seek to rectify it.
As all the committee members are directly involved with the sport, Hudson believes they will be able to communicate better with the franchises. He said he hopes to "be involved in getting a lot closer to the franchise coaches and working with them to see where the talent is". It appears Hudson is going for a more hands-on approach to the role than was previously applied.
The other issue which has plagued South African selection committees has been the inclusion, or lack thereof, of black players in the national team. Hudson wouldn't be drawn into what his approach to this sensitive matter would be, but he indicated a more detailed exact brief would be given to him when he meets with CSA again. He did indicate that there would be no pressure to pick players because of skin colour. "There will be a strong push to pick on merit. There are enough black players in the system; we will just have to work on bringing them through."
Hudson's real work only starts on June 1, which means he will not be involved with the South African team selection for their tour of the West Indies. "I will have a strong interest there, to see who performs but my first task will probably be the series with Pakistan in the UAE, if that gets finalised, otherwise it will be for the home series against India."
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg