Cricket Fans Annoyed at Ban on Games at Wanderers

By Fakir Hassen

Johannesburg, July 19 (IANS): A spat between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB) over Indian Premier League (IPL) has led to three international matches against England being moved to other cities.

Irate cricket fans here are calling on the CSA to explain why they should be victimised for the dispute.

The CSA Friday announced that the matches against the visiting English team which were scheduled for the Wanderers here would not be held at the stadium because the GCB had not tendered an apology it wanted over the IPL fiasco.

The GCB, which administers the Wanderers, one of the oldest cricket stadiums in South Africa, had challenged the CSA over the way it had handled dealings during the IPL. In the process, it had criticised CSA chief executive Gerald Majola and President Mtutuzeli Nyoka, as well as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the IPL.

After a meeting last week, Nyoka had declared that no further matches would be scheduled for the Wanderers until the GCB apologise to all four parties it had criticised, and also made known conditions for future internationals at the Wanderers.

But now fans are claiming that they are the victims of the spat.

"It seems to be all about money between the cricket boards, and we are the sufferers," Moosa Bhamjee told IANS.

"I can't afford to drive for two hours to the Centurion or fly to Durban or the other places where the England matches have been rescheduled," said Bhamjee, who never missed an international at the Wanderers in the past decade.

Amrit Bhana, formerly from Surat and now settled here for the past six years, echoed his sentiments.

"This is grossly unfair to the fans and the CSA must explain their stand."

"I don't think the BCCI would have taken such a drastic decision as not allowing any international games at a major venue if it had a disagreement with a state cricket body."

Keith Lister, an independent director on the GCB, wrote in the daily Business Day here that the GCB found to be unacceptable the financial model in terms of which the CSA wanted to control everything at the Wanderers.

"The CSA wants to appropriate revenue that the GCB earns from domestic and international matches played at the Wanderers," Lister wrote.

"If the GCB submits to this commercially oppressive model, in five years' time the Wanderers will be ruined," he said, adding that the model had been precipitated by the IPL requirements for access to all facilities, including all suites at the Wanderers.


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