For cricket’s sake, the Proteas need to play
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JOHANNESBURG - In the midst of the beating Cricket South Africa took from the parliamentary portfolio committee for sport, art and culture on Tuesday, the importance of getting the Proteas men’s team back on the field was also amplified.
Despite its innumerable problems, CSA remains an organisation that at its core must ensure cricket is played and the sport grows in this country. For that to happen CSA needs its major earner, the national men’s team, to be playing and currently CSA is sweating about a planned trip by England next month.
In between explaining why he supported the need for the full 468 page forensic audit report to be made available to the portfolio committee, one of CSA’s independent directors, Dheven Dharmalingam also highlighted how vital it was for the sport in the country that cricket starts soon.
“We need to get our players back playing again,” said Dharmalingam, who is the chairman of CSA’s Finance and Commercial Committee.
In that position Dharmalingam, who joined CSA’s board in June, would have access to the federation’s finances and will understand the importance of getting an in-coming tour to aid the ailing fiscus. “It’s one of the biggest issues within CSA - when do we earn our next bit of income?”
“#HeritageDay is an important day for our country & myself personally. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, made unique by the diversity of its people.” - @reezahendricks pic.twitter.com/px9TjcMB3a— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) September 24, 2020
Cricket SA has suffered major reputational damage through the various crises it has faced in the last 18 months in particular, which has led to major sponsors like Standard Bank and Momentum ending their support for the federation, although in the case of Momentum it is still backing the national women’s team.
“If our players don’t play, we don’t earn any income,” Dharmalingam told the parliamentary committee.
Cricket SA has been working hard to get the England team to tour South Africa for a short series next month that is set to include three One-Day and three T20 Internationals. The organisation is still awaiting official word from the government about whether that tour can go ahead.
Cricket SA along with the England Cricket Board have drawn up plans to host the 50-over world champions in a ‘bio-secure bubble’ at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, with the series’ being hosted at Newlands and in Paarl. The hotel would only be used by players from both teams, support staff and officials for the duration of the England team's stay.
However despite having given those and other detailed plans to Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa weeks ago, CSA has still not received word about whether the tour will go ahead. It has caused huge concern and frustration for officials.
The Guardian newspaper in England reported Monday that talks were at an “advanced stage” between representatives of the respective boards. That was confirmed by a CSA insider on Tuesday. However CSA remains cautious of making anything related to the tour public in case it antagonises Mthethwa as was the case with the 3TC event earlier this year. On that occasion Mthethwa expressed his anger at CSA for announcing a date for the match, which hadn’t been approved by his office, causing it to be postponed.
Twice in recent weeks Mthethwa has said an announcement about sports tours in and out of South Africa will be announced, but his office has yet to do so. “The Government is considering international travel generally and the opening of sporting events in particular,” his office said last weekend. Mthethwa was involved in a cabinet meeting on Tuesday and didn’t attend the portfolio committee briefing with CSA.
Independent Media understands that CSA has until October 20 to inform the ECB about the tour because that’s the deadline for the ECB to finalise the chartered flight it agreed to use to ferry its players to South Africa.
If that doesn’t happen CSA will have to pick up some of the costs and while it is willing to do so, it will also eat into its bottom line, which CSA can ill-afford in the current financial climate.