FILE - Muditambi Ravele. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
FILE - Muditambi Ravele. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

It’s time for Cricket South Africa to pay more than lip service to the women who help run the sport

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Besides putting the stamp on the final adoption of its new constitution, Cricket South Africa's Annual General Meeting, which started on Saturday and finished last night, didn't inspire much enthusiasm.

The juvenile jokes among provincial presidents - and really poor jokes they were - along with the petty questioning and the fact that one president didn't bother reading the financial statements sent to all of them before the AGM, illustrated an organisation that's going to need much more than a new Memorandum of Incorporation in order to drag itself from the doldrums.

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Any sponsor watching events from Saturday would be seriously questioning whether to get involved with South African cricket. What was clear is that the new group of independent directors that will serve on the Board truly have their work cut out for them.

The composition of that board is a concern, particularly as it relates to the number of women who will serve on it. That number is one - Muditambi Ravele, who previously served on the board of Tennis SA.

Rihan Richards, the new president of Cricket SA's Members Council, said it was unacceptable, shortly after the group of provincial presidents over which he presides voted not to include the one woman on the Members Council - Anne Vilas - from serving as a non-independent director on the new board. That decision by the Members Council was taken not because Vilas has only been on the Council for a little over a year, but mainly because of politics. She was often in the minority as the administrative changes that CSA needed to make were halted at every turn by her colleagues, led by the group that will now serve as non-independents.

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Remember it is that group, with the bad jokes and incessant silly inquiries, who don't read financial statements, who brought the sport to the brink of a government ban.

Women have played critical roles in the growth of cricket in the post-isolation era and in sustaining the sport at various levels. From scorers, to umpires, players to coaches, team managers, media managers and the marketing and commercial department at Cricket SA, the sport in this country could not function without the input, enthusiasm, knowledge and hard work of many thousands of women.

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That their dedication should reflect in just one seat at the directors table is a damning reflection on South African cricket and men who claim to lead it.

There is no need for provinces to conduct programmes as Richards would have them do to “find” women who can serve at senior administrative or even board level. They're there. Their paths are often blocked by incompetent men, many of whom serve on that Members Council and some of whom now sadly will serve on the board as non-independent directors.

Cricket SA's new board will be in charge for a transitory phase - about three years - it must work to ensure that when it's leadership time is completed, that the board that succeeds it, reflects the people putting in the hard yards out of the public's view, many of whom are women.


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