New Delhi: Mike Horn, a renowned adventurer and motivational speaker, has indicated that the “quota” selection controversy before the Proteas played New Zealand in the Cricket World Cup semi-final last month did indeed take place.
Horn, who was part of the World Cup backroom staff told journalists at the Laureus Sports Awards in Shanghai that politics "had a role to play" in the selection of the team that took the field against New Zealand.
It has been reported that coach Russell Domingo was instructed by the Cricket South Africa (CSA) board to include Vernon Philander in place of in-form Kyle Abbott for the semi-final to up the quota of players of colour in the side.
According to a report in ESPN Cricinfo, Horn said, "We're not going into any politics, but it had a role to play. I had to give a talk to the guys after the team was selected. A little bit of energy was taken away from the quarter-finals, where the right team played."
Sources say Philander was also required to fulfill what they have termed an "unofficial quota", which requires including at least four players of colour in the South African side.
"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,” he added.
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.
South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula also denied issuing orders but did not rule out that someone could have had a say in selection and called Horn as "mischievous", quoted Cricinfo.
“Ask AB de Villiers, ask Russell Domingo if they ever received a call from me,” he added.
Both de Villiers and Domingo defended the decision to play Philander in the aftermath of South Africa's exit from the tournament. But according to media reports, both were upset by the decision to play him at the time, with some reports suggesting de Villiers threatened to quit the captaincy.
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.