OPINION: New Gauteng cricket board must to leave pettiness in the past
Last weekend’s annual general meeting - which should have happened last year, but then broke down after becoming enmeshed in political wrangling - saw the election of seven members of the board of directors. The five independent directors will be elected this week as will the Central Gauteng Lions’ president.
The new leadership must put a focus back on cricket - growing the game, sustaining it and making sure the development initiatives that have been drawn up result in excellence. For too long those elements weren’t the focus - politicking was - and it did the sport in Gauteng no good.
Too many individuals within Gauteng cricket tried to use their administrative positions to inflate their own egos and allowed themselves to become political pawns in a broader mess unfolding within Cricket South Africa (CSA).
Two high court judges had to come up with reports regarding how the provincial union had to be administered, and how many people from different race groups had to make up the board. None of those measures seemed to put cricket first. There was no trust.
But this new board - with a strong independent element - needs to leave that kind of pettiness in the past.
These are critical times for cricket. Like all professional sport, it’s been put on hold as the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place as a result thereof make playing impossible. The knock-on effects are that sponsors don’t get value for money and that will impact on income for the sport which is so critical for development initiatives.
SA cricket was extremely fortunate that the more stringent parts of the lockdown came at the end of the season. There was no impact on the international section of the summer in SA, which is so critical to the coffers.
But when cricket resumes there will hopefully have been some creative and ambitious strategies about how the game will be played at grassroots level, how it can be grown and sustained. It is in that area that this Gauteng board of directors will be critical. Petty politicking as their predecessors were engaged in, will destroy cricket.
Speaking to eNCA, the president of the SA Cricketers’ Association, Omphile Ramela, who played for the Highveld Lions, made some salient points about the motives of the administrators. He described a number of them as being “self-serving,” and he hoped that the new era would be different. “We can’t keep having the situation where administrators take centre stage. We need to make sure that players are the centre of the game,” said Ramela.
That is what needs to motivate this band of administrators that the CGL have appointed. Increase the numbers of people playing cricket, improve the conditions in which they play and ensure the equipment they utilise is of decent quality.
They will need support from local government and hopefully they ensure they build proper relationships in that regard. The central focus must be the game, now and into the future.