CAPE TOWN – Former Cricket South Africa (CSA) president Advocate Norman Arendse SC says the time has come to bring national cricket's malfunctioning status quo under the spotlight.
Arendse has in the past served both Cricket South Africa and the International Cricket Council (ICC) in various capacities.
As a cricket-loving person and a former administrator, he feels that idly standing by at this time would be tantamount to fiddling while Rome is burning.
Hence, he has penned this impassioned open letter in the hope that Cricket South Africa mend their wayward demeanours.
The letter reads:
QUO VADIS CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA (CSA)?
Since my last open letter, there have been some administrative and operational changes at CSA.
Some CSA Board Directors have resigned; the majority have elected to stay put. An interim CEO and an interim Director of Cricket have been appointed. A permanent national coach has also been appointed.
We lost the Test Series against England 1-3 but performed well in the ODI Series drawing 1-1.
Does all this mean that CSA has emerged from the chaos following the suspension of the CEO on 6 December 2019? The objective evidence suggests not.
Let us not be fooled by the latest CSA/South Africa Cricketers Association (SACA) agreement on a "pathway forward" – it is not what it is.
It simply restores the status quo: SACA was always entitled to consultation on issues or matters affecting their members, our national and domestic professional players.
Moreover, it comes at a huge expense. Although the agreement is confidential, one cannot imagine that CSA did not tender to pay SACA's attorney and client costs which is a much higher scale than the usual High Court scale in typical litigation.
The reason is clear: SACA won and CSA lost – even before the matter came to court for a hearing and a decision.
The legal costs would be considerable, more than in the region of R750 000.
The franchise system has now been restored for the foreseeable future. A system confirmed as the best option in a report commissioned in 2016/17 by CSA (bar that a 7th franchise was suggested) – at great expense too!
A year-long commission conducted by one of the big four auditing firms would cost close to R1m, if not more.
Despite this, the current leadership commissioned a former ICC CEO to look at an alternative model – at an additional cost no doubt.
As a former ICC CEO, he does not come cheap either. He has been retained since early December 2019 shortly after the suspension of CSA's CEO. The alternative model will no doubt be extensively consulted with SACA (as it should) and with all other role players – a process that will take another six months at least and another season to implement, if adopted.
Before the SACA settlement (read humiliating loss), CSA was humiliated by WPCA when it won its arbitration against CSA – again at considerable cost to CSA.
The cumulative cost to CSA would be in excess of R2.5m, including its own lawyers, WPCA's lawyers and the arbitrator’s costs/fees.
Added to this, the CSA CEO and other senior executives (like Naasei Appiah, Clive Eksteen and Corrie Van Zyl) have been on suspension with full pay – at a cost of millions to CSA (read cricket, cricket development etc.).
Given the SACA settlement, it’s no surprise that Corrie van Zyl has been fully reinstated. His “offence” was that he bungled the SACA payment – a charge he always denied.
Whilst on suspension, interim appointments have been made by the CSA Board.
These include a Director of Cricket and acting CEO – again at considerable expense.
So, more money being spent to plug the gaps, the loopholes, and cover up the mess.
Vast sums of money have been spent by CSA since it suspended the CEO on 6 December 2019. One has to ask – whose money is this? The CSA Board? The President and the Vice President’s?
I would think that the sponsors would (and should) shudder at the thought of their money being spent in such laissez-faire, no, utterly reckless, manner.
Is or was all this the fault of the suspended CEO? If so, why has he not been charged (like Corrie van Zyl and the others)?
Surely, given the capitulation by, and humiliation of, CSA in recent litigation it’s unthinkable that the CEO should not be summarily dismissed!
But no, he remains on the payroll at a cost of more than between R350 000 – R500 000 per month!
Whose money is being spent in this reckless manner? If it’s not the CEO’s fault, then whose is it? It can only be the CSA Board's, who else? Both the SACA and the WPCA debacle originated and developed under their watch.
The President and Vice President least of all can hardly claim or feign, ignorance because if they do then they are manifestly unfit to occupy those high positions.
Instead, what have we witnessed in recent months since early December 2019 is; • A powerless board limping along pathetically making interim appointments; refusing to take accept accountability; to take responsibility and step down; spending millions of cricket money that we can ill afford in circumstances where its biggest sponsor had confirmed that it will terminate its multi-million Rand sponsorship, and others have threatened to withdraw. • A cowering board that has hardly been visible at Test matches where the revered Basil D’Oliveira Trophy was being contested. The meaning of this epic contest seemingly lost on the entire board. • Our English colleagues (whom we desperately need as India again threatens to take full control of the ICC and world cricket) treated with utter disdain and disrespect. It has been very embarrassing. • A dysfunctional Board bereft of a lead independent director and two (2) other independent directors; the vacancies caused by the resignation of three independent directors in December 2019 have not been filled; it is unlikely to be filled because the selection committee which interviews and recommends to the Members Council which independent candidates to appoint was unlawfully removed by the suspended CEO and the President; this means that key statutory committees like finance, audit and risk, social and ethics, and the independent lead director positions have not been, and cannot be filled. • Looking and desperately hoping that interim appointees will rescue our cricket – and save their hides.
Despite what has obviously been the fault lines in our cricket, namely the appointment of an incompetent and unqualified CEO, and a hopelessly incompetent board that has failed to exercise any, (let alone proper) oversight and accept accountability (a cornerstone of our democracy), it has commissioned a forensic audit.
Again, at great expense no doubt. It will cost in excess of R1m, if not more.
It would have completed its work when it’s almost time for the incumbent President to finally depart in August/September 2020.
What happens then, or will the President again have his term extended because of unfinished business?
Or does the equally culpable incumbent Vice President take responsibility, or do both just gallop into the sunset like Bud Spencer and Terence Hill at the end of a bad Spaghetti Western and leave cricket in the mess – and with their mess?
In the meantime, the incumbent Board say they are fixing things and that they’re not going anywhere!
NORMAN ARENDSE SC
Arendse's letter will give cricket officials a great deal to think about ahead Cricket South Africa's meeting in East London on Wednesday.
According to a media report earlier on Tuesday, Cricket South Africa president Chris Nenzani will reportedly be asked to resign this week.