Stuart Hess.

Cricket South Africa has a terrible image problem at the moment. There’s no need to go into detail about the causes for that problem – I’ve done so enough times in this space in the last few weeks. 

Suffice to say, Cricket SA’s image could do with fixing. The Proteas’ results (men and women) mean neither team right now is an attractive brand – unlike say the Springboks – for potential advertisers. Cricket SA and its administrative leadership, and its shambolic management – mean potential commercial partners are wary of attaching their names to the sport at the moment. 

I’ve been told by a number of officials at provincial unions and franchises, that when they approach commercial partners, they have to spell out clearly, how the money those partners want to invest, won’t be going to CSA, but will in fact be used to back the union or franchises. That’s a fairly damning indictment of CSA’s leadership right now. Which brings me to Graeme Smith. 

The former Proteas captain, the most successful of the post-isolation era, was interviewed last week, along with Hussein Manack and Corrie van Zyl for the position of Cricket SA’s Director of Cricket. Yesterday he withdrew his name from the process. 

He said in his post on social media site, Instagram, that he’d “love to have taken on the role”. He used the word frustration, to sum up the last 10 weeks of dealing with Cricket South Africa. And be sure, Smith would not have been dealing with the Board – as should be the case. Rather he would have been dealing with CEO Thabang Moroe, who has made it a mission to assume outright control of CSA.

“Despite my obvious desire to make a difference, during the long and at times, frustrating process over the last ten or so weeks of discussions, I have not developed the necessary confidence that I would be given the level of freedom and support to initiate the required changes.” That’s an incredibly strong statement. 

It paints a damning picture of CSA’s leadership. That leadership has increasingly shown in the last 12 months, that it is incapable of providing the kind of honest, forward thinking administration that cricket in South Africa desperately needs. 

Smith would not have had all the answers nor would he have been able to fix all of Cricket SA’s plethora of ailments. But he is a face that people know. It is a face the public, sponsors, broadcasters and fans associate with success on the field. He helped polish the Proteas’ image in the wake of the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal and made the men’s national team a respected and occasionally feared force. He has a ‘contacts book’ with filled with names of experts both within cricket and outside, South African and international. 

Through those contacts, his broad knowledge of the sport on a global level and just his mere presence – his name as it were – he would have engendered a modicum of respect for Cricket SA. Right now respect is in pretty short supply where Cricket South Africa is concerned. That Graeme Smith feels he won’t have the necessary support to put in place the changes cricket in this country needs just does further damage to Cricket SA’s reputation. 

@shockerhess 


The Star

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