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Interview with Ali Bacher

Previous interviews with Ali Bacher:
17 Jan 1997 and 21 Jan 1997.

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Dr Ali Bacher, Managing Director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa and former Test captain, dropped in to the IRC channel #cricket for his third visit on 21 October 1997 whilst in Lahore following the Second Test between South Africa and Pakistan. Questions received via email were answered, followed by live questions from the channel. Suhael Ahmed assisted Dr Bacher with the interview while Rick Eyre was the moderator.
Rick: Dr Ali Bacher is with us today, and I'd like to welcome him to #cricket

Ali: It is a pleasure to be back (Jitesh Soares) What is it about the South Africans that they produce so many classy all-rounders such as McMillan, Klusener, Pollock, Kallis, etc. whereas in India there is not a single cricketer, even in the domestic scene that seems to have the potential of of coming anywhere close to being an all-rounder?

Ali: The history of the game shows when you talk about all rounders the majority have been those that bat or bowl medium fast, medium pace or fast. As opposed to all rounders who bat and bowl spin. RSA pitches have always been more conducive to fast bowling wheras Indian pitches have generally helped the spin bowler. (Jay Bhalodia) Dr. Bacher do you think that we should have cricket leagues and season instead of countries play any time of the year and some countries play some countries more often and ignore some ?

Ali: It is accepted at the ICC that there is an unequal distribution of tours amongst the full member countries. There is a committee in operation of which I am a member which is endeavouring to arrive at a formula that will encourage a fairer distribution of tours amongst all the test playing countries. (Fred McKie) Dr Bacher, I must say I'm looking forward to South Africa playing in Australia this season - especially at Bradman Oval, Bowral, near where I live. How do you rate South Africa's chances of beating Australia in the Test series. Which players will be the key to success?

Ali: RSA has never beaten Aus in Aus in a test series. Weve drawn twice in Aus once in the 60s under Trevor Goddard and once in the 90s under Kepler Wessels. A win in Aus this summer, will be the ultimate for RSA cricket. It is achievable and a lot will depend on the form of Allan Donald whom I rate as one of the top three fast bowlers in World cricket today. (Siddiqui) Paul Adams is very unusual type of bowler. Is there any other such type of bowler in South Africa? What do you think is the future of such bowling?

Ali: Paul Adams is a role model and an inspiration to the youth of South Africa. His action is unique and unparalled in the history of test cricket. He is only 20, remains unaffected by his fame and is playing a significant role in unifying the new South Africa. (Vipin Gupta) Do you think that the idea of having a world cup for test-matches is viable? If yes, then how should ICC approach to solve the problems of pitch-doctoring, schedule, match ending in draw. There are numerous other issues.

Ali: There is general support in principle for the establishment of a world test championship. It would help considerably to lift the profile of test cricket and to ensure that the test match product remains a sustainable asset. An important component in ensuring that test cricket remains as a product with spectator appeal is the production of good quality test pitches that are equally fair to batsmen and bowlers. The ICC should ultimately monitor these developments. (gopinathr) You want to promote the game of cricket in non-playing countries.Because of its pre-eminence in the region, has your board done anything to promote cricket in African subcontinent??

Ali: The ICC and the UCBSA are actively pursuing the development of cricket in africa beyond the borders of RSA, Zim and Kenya. Today Mr Hoosain Ayob formally with the UCBSA is in Tanzania promoting the development of cricket of that country. We have recently identified 14 countries in Africa beyond the borders of South Africa who will be visited by Mr Ayob in the next 12 months to promote cricket in those respective countries. (Jitesh Soares) Which is the most preferred game played in the townships ? Where does cricket stand amongst them?

Ali: Soccer is the No.1 sport played in the Townships however, there are clear signs in RSA that a cricket cutlure may very well be emerging in some of our Townships. We have clear evidence that young Africa children are spontaneously playing with bat and ball on the dusty roads of many of the Townships. This augurs well for RSA cricket. (boom) Mr. Bacher: U proposed increased no of countries to participate in the world cup in SA. I think this proposal will virtually get effected when the new countries will be fighting neck to neck with the old horses. So, would u kindly tell what effective steps u have taken and u r going to take to reduce the distance of quality cricket between new cricket playing countries and present test teams.

Ali: World Cricket at the highest level is played by too few countries, it is our hope in RSA that the 2003 WC will have more than 12 countries participating. However, it is imperative that the quality of the tournamnet must not be compromised thus the strategy of the ICC Dev Committee is to improve the standard of play of the top associated countries so that they can compete on equal terms with the full member countries in future World Cups. (Rahul) Dr. Bacher, it was said, you had drawn up plans for matches to be played in Disneyland. Wouldn't it give the impression that cricket is not a serious game? It could have been introduced to the American public in a different manner.

Ali: The USA is the biggest sponsorship and Tv market in the world. As part of the ICC global strategy it would be significant if cricket would be able to grab a slice of this lucrative market. Disneyworld is the ideal vehicle to launch a grass roots development program into the USA. At this point in time the ICC is receiving positive signals from Disneyworld and we hope to launch our entry into the USA market in the very near future.

Rick: That was the last of the pre-emailed questions.

Ros: Several people here in SA have expressed dismay that the series in Aus will be broadcast live on MNet, which the majority of South Africans cannot afford. Your comments?

Ali: UCBSA have a 3 year contract with SABC to ensure that all international matches played in RSA will be shown live ball by ball in the whole country. MNet have acquired the rights for the majority of tours played outside RSA. However, in the latter situations MNet and SABC have agreed that delayed packaged highlight of the matches played abroad will be shown on a daily basis by SABC

JohnCleese: Dr. Bacher, the Australian board refuses to schedule matches during their domestic season. This enables First Class cricketers to compete with test cricketers thus increasing the overall standard of the Sheffield Shield Competition. Do you think the ICC should institutionalise this trend? We've seen too many teams touring when their countries have domestic matches.

Ali: The marketplace has demanded an increase in the number of international tours scheduled per annum and the number of international matches played by any top cricketer today. This therefore, limits the number of their appearances in domestic cricket, A positive development of this is it gives opportunities for newer cricketers to emerge and to show their talent at the first class level

Moz: You say that there is a possibility of trying to start cricket in America. In America, the sports they play very rarely end up in draws, would the ICC alter the rules to suit the USA or would cricket in it's traditional manner be promoted ?

Ali: The USA market would determine the type of cricket product we will introduce in USA. Initially, it will be the 50 overs ODI variety, However, taking cognizance of the USA life it would be necessary thereafter to contemplate introducing a shortened version of the ODIs.

Colq: What do you think about the proposed mini-World Cup, and whether it will undermine the spectator and sponsor value of the main event.

Ali: The mini WC and I assume you are referring to the proposed Disneyworld event, will be a knock-out tornament involving the 9 test playing countries and the each innings be of 40 overs duration. Therefore there should not be any conflict with the 99 WC to be staged in UK.

JohnCleese: We all wish that great cricketers give back their vast experience and knowledge back to the game. How can the ICC get more great cricketers in administration?

Ali: No one person has exclusive rights to the great game of cricket. I agree with you that we need to encourage more of the great test cricketers of yesteryear to become apart of cricket at all levels of the game. It was pleasing to note that at the Associate Members Trophy in MSA, many of the worlds great former players were there as coaches. e.g Gordon Greenidge, Roger Harper, Bobby Simpson to name a few.

laser: what is your view on Kenya and Bangladesh being given one-day international status.

Ali: The ICC Development Committee reccommended this to the Council and there was unaminous support for this proposal. It will help to lift the profile of cricket in these countries, enhance the status there, will facilitate better sponsorship deals and encourage the full members to invite these countries to participate in ODIs in their respective countries.

Mask: (Durban, SA) Has everything been okay with the touring party's diets in Pakistan - are the Hotel staff happy preparing special foods for the team?

Ali: Ive been told by the Team that the organization of their tour in Pakistan has been exemplary. In fact Pat Symcox said that it is easier touring Pakistan now than touring England.

SamiMagoon: Dr. Bacher is there any chance of getting a Mini World Cup for the old players from each team. That would be an interesting event and prove to show that some old men can still move. It will also get lot's of people to watch.

Ali: This is a good idea. We support the princple of a Masters Tournament however, we think it is important that our former test players should also use these tournament to go out of their way to promote cricket on their travels.

Jamie: What should the South Africans do differently when they meet Australia again later this year?

Ali: The first two test matches against two world class spinners in Pakistan have shown that our batsmen are gaining confidence in playing spin. We therfore should go to Australia with more confidence in pitting their skills against possibly the greatest leg spin bowler of all time, Shane Warne.

Rick: Dr Bacher has to leave now to catch his flight. On behalf of #cricket I'd like to thank Dr Bacher for chatting with us today and I hope that we will meet again in the future.

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Date-stamped : 28 Feb1999 - 11:25