The Ten School Stranglehold on KZN Cricket Selections

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Cricket selections

CSA has embarked on a new format for the selection of their provincial youth teams, gone are the traditional U15, U17 and U19 teams and in are the U16 and U18 teams.

The trials have been held and the teams in KwaZulu-Natal have been selected, the KZN COASTAL U16 and U18 teams along with the KZN INLAND U16 and U18 teams.

Congratulations need to be sent to all the boys that were selected to represent KZN in these various teams. Well-done on this achievement!

The 10 School Stranglehold

On closer inspection however one can’t help but feel a little concerned about those who didn’t get selected and whether a fair selection process is in place.

You see for the 4 teams selected (KZN Inland U16 & U18 and KZN Coastal U16 & U18) over 97% of the selections have only included players from the 10 KZN monastic schools, which we will call the KZNET (KwaZulu-Natal Elite Ten) schools for simplicity sake.

Great if you happen to be attending one of those 10 schools but what of the rest of the province? What of the 100’s of other cricketers who attend other schools, who are just as passionate about the sport, go for additional coaching, play club cricket on Sundays and are clearly talented? Can it honestly be said by the selectors that not a single cricketer outside those 10 schools is good enough to make one of the four teams that were selected? Or is it just easier to assume that the best players just must be attending the KZNET schools?

What compounds the concern is that during the first round of trials, the KZNET teams competed among themselves. During the “second round of trials” there was however another team added. In the KZN Coastal trials it was called the Tier 2 Team, made up of players from outside the elite 10 schools who had to go through their own trials (which included over 300 cricketers) just to get selected into this Tier 2 team. In essence it was meant to be the ‘best’ of the other schools.

These so-called Tier 2 Teams competed well against their more illustrious opposition, in fact in the U16 Coastal Trials the Tier 2 team was viewed as too strong to play against one of the KZNET teams after they had comfortably beaten the KZN Cricket Union RPC side, and so the opposition was changed post-haste so that they could play against a stronger KZNET team in their next match. One wonders if that was to avoid the embarrassment of the Tier 2 team beating one of the KZNET?

Odds stacked firmly against cricketers outside the KZNET Schools

These Tier 2 teams did not practice together, their captains were chosen on the day of the matches and changed from match to match, and for the most part enjoyed little if any direction from the coaches. Yet they still competed admirably against the KZNET opposition and to the casual onlooker there was little difference in standard or ability.

Yet not a single player from these Tier 2 teams even came close to getting selected. The selectors who are predominantly from the KZNET schools seemingly focused only on their schools.

One wonders what message this sends out to the young cricketers who do not attend the KZNET schools but still play at a high standard? One selector admitted off record that it is nigh on ‘impossible to get a look in unless you are from one of the KZNET schools’.

This stranglehold on selections however has been going on for years. Year in and year out the same KZNET schools form the majority of the selections.

How Healthy is it for Cricket?

Cricket being a sport where stats are readily available makes it abundantly clear which players are currently in good form and which players are not. Yet one must wonder if current form is even a criterion that selectors look at or could it be that poor form is excused if a KZNET player has been selected for a KZN team in the past?

Of course, the KZNET schools do attract some of the finest cricketers in the Province and most of those selected clearly deserve their place in the teams, many are hugely talented. Yet if selectors are not going to use a wider net, how will they ever find other players who might be just as good or even better than some KZNET players? Why even select a Tier 2 team if they are not going to be looked at? And why, if a Tier 2 Team is selected to complete against a KZNET school, are the playing fields so uneven?

It is true that selection into a provincial youth team does not guarantee a player will become good enough to play professionally. Likewise non-selection does not condemn a talented cricketer to French cricket in the backyard. Yet decades of selections that appear to take into consideration players from only one part of the community will always raise eyebrows.

There are some huge monopolies in the world today, some good some bad. Facebook owns 77% of social media traffic, Amazon has captured 74% of the ebook market and Google owns 88% of the search advertising market. However, the KZNET schools outdo them all with 97% of KZN youth cricket team selections.

How healthy is that for cricket?

13 COMMENTS

  1. Fair shout. However most of the talent seems to flood to these schools and they will naturally be the first place selectors look. Some will get overlooked even in the top schools.

  2. Perhaps if a youngster is good enough they should try get them into one of the top cricket schools. I guess if you want it you will do what you need to do

  3. The inclusion of the Tier 2 teams sounded like a good idea on paper but the reality is that those players were not taken seriously. One of them even scored a 100 in one of the trial matches but it wasn’t good enough. SMH

  4. Well spotted SASS. But doubt it will ever change. It is a great marketing tool for the KZN ten, they are guaranteed of always having their boys in the teams.

  5. What about a ‘quota’ rule for Tier 2 schools? At least one player from a Tier 2 school per team would be a start.

  6. You will find that it is the same in most of the provinces. Just a few schools control all the talent and regardless of how good you are your chances are slim to nothing that you will catch the eye of the selectors unless you are in the traditionally strong schools.

  7. Selections are always going to throw up conjecture. It has since the first team was selected. Keep in mind that players from the top schools are also overlooked and many donlt get picked. However if the focus from selectors are only on a handful of schools then that is a problem and must cast some doubt on the process. Still I believe if a player really wants it he will make it even if it means plying your trade overseas.

  8. So what is the solution? The top 10 schools scoop the best Grade 7’s with scholarships each and every year so they will always assume that they have the lions share of talent. However a talented u13 does not always become a talented u16 or u18, other players do catch up and overtake. Give more and opportunity!

  9. The problem is so much deeper than this. Look at the fixture lists of these 10 schools. They only play each other! You wont find them playing any school outside their 10 school agreement. Take a look at the top sides in the Cape, they all play against coed schools, parel vallei, somerset college, curro durbanville all get a match against the top schools. Gauteng is the same, but for some reason in KZN these schools cant seem to organise a fixture against any schools outside their close knit community.