Cup team was changed to fill race quota: coach
Proteas high performance coach Mike Horn says forced change to World Cup semi-final XI left team flat
16 April 2015, 05:12 PM AEST
South Africa assistant coach Mike Horn has said he believes that the Proteas changed their side for the Cricket World Cup semi-final to meet quota requirements.
A renowned adventurer and motivational speaker, Horn has been working with the Proteas since 2011 as a self-described 'high performance coach' and was part of their World Cup party to provide inspiration as they chased the title.
Beaten at the semi-final stage by New Zealand in a thriller, controversy erupted after the team that beat Sri Lanka in the quarter-final stage was changed to include fast bowler Vernon Philander ahead of the in-form Kyle Abbott.
Philander's selection raised the number of 'players of colour' – a term which encompasses black Africans, mixed-race people and those of Asian descent – to four, the same quota number that was previously implemented until it was abolished in 2007.
A report in South Africa's Sunday Times the day after the World Cup final said Philander's selection came at the direction of the Cricket South Africa board, a claim that was denied by CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat.
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"There was and is no political interference in our selections," Lorgat said.
A further report by Netwerk24 claimed Lorgat had sent a text message to Proteas head coachRussell Domingo on the morning of the match to pick another 'player of colour'.
"This is utter nonsense reporting with false allegations being made," Lorgat said in a statement.
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But Horn, speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai last night, countered that and said there was political interference that sapped the energy from the team.
"What actually happened was the (semi-final) team was the team that played against Sri Lanka," Horn told Eyewitness News.
"We're not going into any politics, but it had a role to play.
"I had to do a little bit of talk to the guys after the team was selected and a little bit of energy was taken away from the quarter-finals where the right team played."
"It is what it is, I take it as it is. It doesn't matter how politics or the quota influenced the players.
"I think I failed a bit in my job as motivator or as high performance coach in the way that I believed the Proteas could win the World Cup."
"My job was to basically say that: Listen guys now we have to give a little bit more than we gave before. We have to fill gaps and now we have to make the difference with less but give more, in a way."
Philander had missed four of South Africa's seven World Cup matches before the semi-final after he picked up a hamstring niggle during the pool stages.
Philander took 0-52 from eight overs against the Black Caps and left the field during the Black Caps' successful run chase due to injury.
After arriving back in South Africa after their World Cup exit, Proteas coach Russell Domingo defended the selection of Philander ahead of Abbott, who took nine wickets in four World Cup matches at an average of 14.
"Vernon was fully fit. He had been through all the rehab and fitness tests," Domingo said.
Quota-based selections have long been a topic of debate in South African sport and the Philander case comes after CSA increased racial quotas in domestic cricket.
Domestic franchises are now required to have six 'players of colour', including three black Africans, in their sides.
The Proteas have not had a racial quota since the system of including four 'players of colour' in the side was scrapped in 2007.
The Sunday Times' report said the Proteas players were "fuming" over Philander's selection and captain AB de Villiers was reluctant to play in the match over the issue.
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