Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Andrew Hudson – The Protea in the CSA boardroom

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When South African cricket fans reflect over the early years of the Proteas’ reintroduction into the international game, the name Andrew Hudson is almost impossible to ignore.

A resolute right-handed batsman who played 124 times for his country, the now 57-year-old is undoubtedly the most prominent member of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Board, where he sits as an Independent Director.

Hudson recorded the Proteas’ first century when they returned – an epic 163 on Test debut against the West Indies in Barbados – and went on to score a few more too during a period of just over six years in the national set-up.

But how much do we know about this dedicated individual away from being in the international limelight?

Hudson was born and raised in the small north coast town of Eshowe in KwaZulu-Natal, where he spent most of his formative years. His father was involved in the farming industry and his mother was a nurse.

“We lived right next to the Eshowe Country Club where mum and dad played a lot of tennis, so I grew up with a tennis racket, a golf club, a rugby ball, and all these in my hands,” he recalls.

“As soon as I could walk, I was hitting and kicking anything. I just had that affinity to balls. Well, anything that was remotely round and that moved, I was interested in as a youngster.”

After completing his primary school in Eshowe, he moved on Kearsney College in Hillcrest where he boarded during secondary school.

During this period, he excelled at cricket and the sport took over his life. Following his matriculation in 1982, Hudson earned a cricketing scholarship from the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union (KZNCU).

“In those days they would offer a batter and bowler the opportunity to go and play club cricket overseas,” he continued. “So, if you were a promising young cricketer in the league, you had this chance. I went up to Yorkshire and I went backwards and forwards for three years whilst playing for Natal before I decided to go to Natal University to study Industrial Psychology, Marketing and Business Administration.

“I then had a scholarship to go and study so I stopped going to England thereafter. Instead, I went to varsity for a few years whilst playing for Natal. I just finished university in 1991 and as I was literally writing my finals when we got accepted back into the international fold and I had to go to India on that first tour.”

This was the start of the name Hudson becoming so familiar to South Africans. Even after he retired as a player in 2001, he was still associated with the Proteas – this time as Chairman of Selectors from 2010 to 2015.

Towards the end of his playing career at KZN, Hudson also entered the banking sector, an industry he still serves today as Regional Director – FNB Commercial (KZN).

Looking back at his journey through cricket, Hudson admits he was fortunate to have had opportunities to play when compared to other South Africans.

“I wasn’t very politically conscious as a kid growing up,” he regrettably says. “Probably I was sheltered from it by my parents and a lot of things I was probably not exposed to. I mean all I wanted to do was play.

“I was a true sportsman I guess and the fact that there was exclusion was not something I really saw. Perhaps that was just part of my upbringing as a white kid in an environment that was.

“I think when I look back and think how skewed it was and how awkward things were, I realise there was a missed opportunity with regards to colleagues and people who were in my age group and didn’t have the opportunities I had. That is sad for me in a sense because I was fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time. I feel I was really blessed to have had that.”

However, looking back at CSA’s efforts to transform the game over the last three decades, he adds:
“I think looking back at the journey of inclusion, we could have possibly done better.

“I guess we’ve had some good periods and some not so good periods. Things like transformation, though, I do think we should have embraced much earlier. It’s taken a long time not just for cricket, but as a country to realise that we’re all equal and we should have the same opportunity to do well.”

Having made a big impact as a player and selector for CSA, Hudson is hoping he can now make a difference in the boardroom.

“It would be nice to leave cricket in a better place than where I found it,” he responds when asked about what legacy he wanted to leave. “I am part of three sub-committees, namely, cricket, pipeline and finance. Effectively, those are my three areas of focus.

“In terms of cricket, it’s excellence of cricket and making sure we can compete well at the highest level; it’s growing our pipeline and making sure there’s quality and diversity in terms of cricketers coming through the system.

“We want to have a good supply of players coming through to feed the top end. With regards to finances, I am in the banking world and this subject is also close to my heart. We want to make sure money is being managed correctly and spent in the rights way to ensure the best outcome for the game. It’s another area where I’d like to assist as well by trying to bring in sponsors and getting cricket back into being a sustainable governing body once more.

“As a Board Member, I want to leave cricket in a better place than when I joined it.”

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