New Lions CEO Leaf-Wright: I’m not too concerned about all the noise out there
JOHANNESBURG – The Central Gauteng Lions’ new chief executive, Jono Leaf-Wright, doesn’t fear the often volatile political environment in Gauteng cricket, saying he has the backing of the board and union president Jack Madiseng.
Leaf-Wright was a somewhat surprising appointment as chief executive, replacing veteran sports administrator Greg Fredericks, who is stepping down next month.
At 37, Leaf-Wright – who has been involved in junior coaching in the region – is among the youngest chief executives in the country, and takes on a job where the political environment has often proved very difficult to traverse.
“Greg’s done a wonderful job in making sure I’m coming into much calmer waters than he faced when he started,” Leaf-Wright said yesterday.
“Having been involved in the system for many years, I’ve got the support of many people. I’m not coming into this as a complete outsider, where I have to prove my worth to any one.
“Coming into the role, I’m confident that I’ve got the support. I’m not too concerned about all the noise that is out there sometimes.
“I’ve got a good board that’s backing me. Jack Madiseng (CGL president) is a superb guy who’s backing me, and certainly the players are backing me.”
Leaf-Wright’s experience of Gauteng cricket’s politics will undergo its first examination in the next few days, with the province’s clubs set to vote on who will be president of the CGL.
That vote could have far-reaching ramifications beyond just the province, with current incumbent Madiseng said to be a close ally of current Cricket SA chief executive Thabang Moroe.
If Madiseng is retained as Gauteng’s representative on Cricket SA’s board of directors, it would make Moroe immensely powerful, an outcome many within South African cricket circles fear.
“There is a lot of noise around,” said Leaf-Wright. “One of the things I’m pretty good at is staying focused on what I’ve been appointed to do, and that is to get fans back to the stadium and build the brand of Central Gauteng Lions.”
The next few weeks will certainly test Leaf-Wright’s resolve.
He completed his CSA Level Three Coaching Qualification in 2009, and been involved with the SA Under-19 team and the Gauteng Under-19 team as a talent scout.
Leaf-Wright has also assisted the Royal Challengers Bangalore in different IPL seasons, and last year was manager of the Jozi Stars in the Mzansi Super League.
Besides the explosive political environment in the region, Leaf-Wright also takes over at a time when South African cricket is on the brink of major changes domestically, with Cricket SA pushing for a break up of the franchise system and a return to a 12-team provincial system from 2020/21 onwards.@shockerhess