Graeme Smith may rescue SA cricket as CEO gets suspended
South Africa / 7 December 2019, 1:25pm / Stuart Hess and Tanya Waterworth
Johannesburg - As Cricket South Africa continues to lurch in a sea of turmoil, Graeme Smith may be willing to come to the organisation’s rescue.
After CSA’s decision to suspend its chief executive Thabang Moroe, Independent Media has learnt that Smith could make himself available for the role of director of cricket on an interim basis, probably for the length of the England series.
England arrive in South Africa next week, ahead of the four-Test series that starts in Centurion on Boxing Day.
Smith’s presence, albeit in an acting capacity, would be a massive fillip for everyone involved in cricket who have witnessed CSA stumble from one crisis to the next recently.
He was one of four candidates interviewed for the position of director of cricket last month, but just days later withdrew from the process citing his frustration at the length of time it was taking CSA to make a decision.
Smith had first been approached about the role at the start of September.
Even after his decision to withdraw, high-ranking CSA officials, including the organisation’s president, Chris Nenzani, asked him to reconsider.
As recently as last week, Smith held talks with Nenzani and the now former independent director Shirley Zinn, who tendered her resignation from the CSA board on Tuesday.
Moroe, after a week of drama in which he was the central figure, was eventually suspended by CSA’s board on Friday, just hours after the Proteas headline sponsor, Standard Bank, announced it would not renew its contract with CSA after it ends in April.
“Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance. In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA,” said group chief marketing and communications officer, Thulani Sibeko.
Moroe’s “precautionary suspension”, according to a CSA statement, “follows from the reports received by the social and ethics committee and the audit and risk committee of the board related to possible failure of controls in the organisation”.
While he is suspended, Moroe will face a forensic audit “of critical aspects of the business” by an independent forensic team.
At the same time CSA will negotiate with Dave Richardson, the former chief executive of the International Cricket Council and former South African wicketkeeper, regarding the appointment of an acting chief executive while Moroe is suspended.
Also on Friday, the executive of the players’ union, the SA Cricketers’ Association, held a meeting where it was decided not to go on strike in light of its ever deteriorating relationship with CSA. While Saca did not rule out the possibility of a strike, the association’s outgoing chief executive, Tony Irish, reiterated that such an option was only ever viewed by the players as a “very last resort”.
“We wish to reassure cricket fans, and other cricket stakeholders, that Saca will not embark on industrial action with the players during the upcoming England series,” he said.
Saca again called on CSA’s entire board to resign, while other outcomes from the meeting include a call for a full review of CSA’s finances; an immediate reversal of the decision to restructure domestic cricket - a move that has seen Saca take CSA to court; and for CSA to honour the agreement it has in place with Saca.
In another development, Dawn Mokhobo became the third independent director to resign, joining Zinn and Mohammed Iqbal Khan. That leaves just nine directors in place, two of whom are independent, ahead of today’s board meeting at a Johannesburg hotel.
CSA’s highest decision-making body, the Members Council - made up of the 14 provincial presidents - met last night. It was believed they were to ask Nenzani to step down as president.
KZN Cricket Union president Ben Dladla said he could not comment before last night’s meeting of the Members Council, which was expected to last until at least 10pm.