Lorgat backs 'aggressive' changes to selection policy

Haroon Lorgat at the ICC annual conference Getty Images

Transformation targets for South Africa's national team could be reviewed as CSA continues to push for what CEO Haroon Lorgat has termed "aggressive," change.

In the aftermath of the Vernon Philander-selection controversy, CSA explicitly clarified their selection policy includes a guideline on transformation, which calls the consideration of at least four players of colour in the starting XI.

That number was officially the quota from 1998 until 2007 and has remained in place, albeit it unofficially. Now it has been termed a target. Effectively, it means the quota has remained the same at international level for 17 years even as it increases at lower levels and the time may have come for an adjustment.

"We haven't looked at the national team. We've got what we had for many years. It's something we will review in due course," Lorgat said.

Since Lorgat took office in July 2013, CSA have committed themselves to increasing the pace of transformation quicker than had been done in the past. Two months into Lorgat's tenure, they held their first transformation indaba (conference) in over a decade and at its conclusion expanded the domestic quota for the 2013-14 season to include that at least one of the four players of colour in franchise teams had to be black African.

In the 2014-15 season, the overall quota was increased to five players of colour, which should include two black Africans and in 2015-16, franchise and semi-professional teams will be required to field at least six players of colour, including at least three black Africans and Lorgat has indicated the trend will continue.

"As far as transformation is concerned, we make no apologies. We made it very clear at the outset of my tenure when we hosted the transformation indaba that we will pursue transformation aggressively and in a very responsible way," he said at the launch of the Africa T20 Cup in Johannesburg, where he also chided a journalist for using the word quota. "I think you should get your vocabulary right. We always say targets," Lorgat told the reporter who asked whether the national quota would be increased.

While defending the targets, Lorgat has also had to defend against public perception of them, which he said has not been handled responsibly by the media. "I would hope that the media in turn will report in a responsible way because that is not my view as I sit here now," Lorgat said.

He referred specifically to the World Cup semi-final and Philander selection row, which CSA put to bed on Saturday night after an internal investigation confirmed Lorgat was consulted about the starting XI, but rejected claims there was board interference in the team.

"We made clear how we will manage it and above all, don't forget the concept of merit selection and that seems to be something that people sidestep. Philander is a world-class bowler who deserves to be there, unlike what some of you might think. That issue is closed. We explained it like it was. I hope you will take it in that spirit," he said. "We picked the best XI. I am not sure how many more times we need to say that. On the day. That's what it was."

Claims that Philander was included to meet the target sprouted days after South Africa were knocked out of the World Cup but were propped up last week when Mike Horn, South Africa's motivational consultant, referred to politics playing a role in selection. Horn spoke to journalists at the Laureus Sports Awards in Shanghai, and not in a capacity connected to CSA, who later issued a press release saying Horn had written to them and explained his quotes were taken out of context.

Horn has made not further comments but Lorgat reiterated that stance. "I haven't spoken to Mike. All I can say is that he is not the best in English and he has been put on a spot he should not have been put on," Lorgat said.

When asked whether CSA's transformation strategy was thrown awry by the fact that Aaron Phangiso, the only black African in the World Cup squad, did not play a single game, Lorgat refuted that suggestion. "You seem to forget the criteria for selection in the national team is merit. We've had Imran Tahir who was the incumbent in the spinners' role, Phangiso was back-up."