Pretoria - A week in politics is said to be a long time. In South African cricket it might as well be an eternity in regards to how much has happened.
Last week this column centred on how Cricket SA were doing everything possible to shoot themselves in the foot.
I did not believe they could plunge any lower than losing an arbitration case to one of its affiliates like they did when the Johannesburg Supreme High Court ruled in favour of the Western Province Cricket Association and ordered CSA to cover all legal costs.
But that was giving CSA too much credit. This week they self-imploded when five senior South African journalists’ accreditation was revoked.
The reasons provided were even more damning with CSA’s head of communication Thamie Mthembu engaged in meetings with at least three of the five journalists throughout the Mzansi Super League clash between the Cape Town Blitz and Tshwane Spartans at Newlands.
It was actually a sorry state of affairs, and fairly ironic, considering the match was of the highest quality with the duel between Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers reminding us all of the good old days. But the real action was happening in the press box - or at least once CSA rescinded on revoking the journalists’ accreditation and granted them re-entry to the media centre.
The television interview conducted by CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe was laughable too. To state that the journalists were banned “because your so-called facts are misplaced and misguided, and we feel you are misleading the public” borders on the methods used by the Apartheid government to silence the media. The malaise that cricket is engulfed in at the moment has everyone gravely concerned, with former CSA president and independent board member Norman Arendse penning a vociferous open letter to CSA.
Arendse, who is a senior counsel, stated emphatically that “their banning is unconstitutional, and unlawful, and must be deplored by all cricket-lovers”.
Arendse went further by claiming that “The future sustainability of cricket is also at grave risk given the public CSA pronouncement of a projected shortfall of hundreds of millions of rands.”
Cricket is at an all-time low in South Africa, and it could not come at a worse time with England a fortnight away from arriving in the country.
The governing body needs the media more than ever to project a positive image of the sport, yet they find themselves involved in such a mess. The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) were never going to take this form of restriction lying down and neither were fellow journalists of the “Banned 5”.
We, and I include myself, were willing to boycott the Mzansi Super League - CSA’s flagship event - if matters were not dealt with in the appropriate manner.
It would have been a debilitating blow to CSA and their ambitions for the tournament. Already attendance is down on last year, and without any media coverage - newspapers, radio, online - I cannot envisage there being a MSL 3.
Moroe has publicly apologised for his latest public relations disaster, despite a national press conference scheduled for Tuesday evening being postponed yet again.
The country though deserves more than just a Moroe apology. They need the embattled administrator to walk away from the game altogether before CSA’s house comes burning down along with him.