Richardson to head up yet another review of Cricket SA domestic structure
Cricket South Africa is once again embarking on a review of its domestic playing structure even as it has two reports on the same topic gathering dust somewhere.
The organisation, somewhat sneakily, announced on Monday night that Dave Richardson will form a steering committee “to make recommendations on the future structure of South African domestic cricket.”
The announcement came in a brief statement released towards the latter stages of the Mzansi Super League final and just hours after a joint meeting of Cricket SA’s Members Council and the remaining Board of Directors had wrapped up in Paarl.
Richardson, a former international player who went onto become the chief executive of the ICC, was recently roped in as a consultant by CSA to help manage the fall out from the administrative meltdown the company has suffered that has included the resignation of four Board members and the suspension of seven members of staff, including chief executive Thabang Moroe.
Central to many of Cricket SA’s problems has been a fallout with the country’s players, represented by their union, the SA Cricketers Association. SACA dragged Cricket SA to court over proposed changes to the sport’s domestic structure announced in April with CSA wanting to revert from the current structure of six franchises to a 12 team provincial structure next season. SACA stated that they were not consulted as is required under a Memorandum of Understanding between it and CSA. In an attempt to manage the continuing fallout from that decision, CSA decided to put Richardson in charge of the steering committee that will include, interim Director of Cricket Graeme Smith, Chief Financial Office, Pholetsi Moseki and a representative of SACA. Except on Tuesday morning, SACA said it would not participate on the committee until the existing decision to restructure is withdrawn.
“The fact that CSA is now, for the first time, going to look into what the domestic structure should be is a clear admission that the decision eight months ago was taken without this being done. This is precisely why we had to launch legal proceedings against CSA,” said SACA’s, chief executive Tony Irish.
Cricket SA already has access to two comprehensive reviews of the domestic structure; one was completed a decade ago by the late Kader Asmal and recommended the addition of two franchises to the current six, while a much more recent review in 2017, recommended the creation of a seventh franchise. That latter recommendation was supposedly discussed at a Board meeting at the end of January 2017, but nothing came of it.
On Monday night, Richardson said it would be important for him to understand the exact nature of Cricket SA’s forecast debt. The organisation told parliament’s portfolio committee on sport, that it was predicting debt of R654-million for the four year period ending in April 2022. Cricket SA has said subsequently it was lowering that figure because of savings, while SACA in its submission to the High Court said the debt was even higher than CSA’s initial forecast.
“First we have to make sure that the forecasting and assumptions that are made, when it comes to devising any kind of structure are robust enough,” said Richardson. “That’s an exercise in itself. People have thrown around this forecast loss of R650-million; is it 650, 300 or one billion? We’ve got to establish that up front and understand the problem facing us. Secondly we need to make sure the stakeholders are all consulted and that we look at it not only from a cricket perspective quality wise but a financial sustainability perspective...and that is going to take a bit of work.”
Richardson described the committee’s work as urgent and hoped to have some form of recommendations available for the Board to review by the end of January next year. “We can’t guarantee that the Board will eventually approve any recommendations that might come out of this whole process, but if we put a good plan together there is no reason that they wouldn’t,” said Richardson.