Given a second innings, CSA must take advantage and come good
Cricket South Africa’s second chance at renewal is getting ever closer.
That opportunity comes at a critical time not only for the organisation, but also at a moment, when the sport globally is facing critical questions, while greater demands are being made of the International Cricket Council to show leadership.
Cricket SA needs to get its house in order. Much through its own doing, the organisation’s administration imploded, less than 10 years after it had been given the means to fix itself in the wake of the ‘bonus scandal’ that led to the ousting of then chief executive Gerald Majola.
It’s a fairly damning indictment of the leadership of that federation that it should have found itself in the position it did a year ago, with the memories of that previous scandal still relatively fresh.
It points to a failure in the CSA leadership that in setting up the interim board of directors, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa deemed it imperative that judge Chris Nicholson’s recommendations following the commission of inquiry that started its work in late 2011, not only had to be revisited, but implemented.
“Government spent a lot on the Nicholson report and process and therefore we must find a way of implementing it. This is not a negotiation thing, it is how the report is to be implemented,” Mthethwa said pointedly during a media briefing on Friday attended by members of the interim board, and the acting president of CSA’s members council, Rihan Richards.
It really didn’t need saying, but such has been the arrogance of various CSA administrators in the years since Nicholson’s report was first released that Mthethwa – who must be weary of CSA by now – outlined his stance in no uncertain terms.
The interim board has conducted its work diligently, despite some self-inflicted drama brought about by its former chairman Zak Yacoob, getting into a verbal joust with a journalist that ultimately led to his resignation.
It has consulted broadly in assessing how to change CSA’s Memorandum of Incorporation to align it with having a new, sleeker, more independent board. Those processes – which have involved governance expert Michael Katz – have put the board in a position where it has been able to state that by mid-April, the organisation can finally hold its Annual General Meeting.
Crucial disciplinary procedures involving the company secretary Welsh Gwaza and the former acting chief executive Kugandrie
Govender, will be wrapped up by the end of the month. Haroon Lorgat, who serves on the interim board, said the processes involving Gwaza and Govender had been drawn out with several postponements sought for various reasons. “Hopefully now we are nearing the end of it,” he said.
Holding officials responsible for the administrative collapse is critical, if the entire process involving the interim board is to be deemed credible. It also offers CSA, and its new board of directors, the chance to start with a clean slate. That board will be responsible for appointing a new chief executive, a process that will hopefully involve the position being publicly advertised, something that was only done on a limited basis with Thabang Moroe two and a half years ago.
The reputational damage suffered by Cricket SA will take years to fix, primarily because it had fallen apart so quickly in the wake of Nicholson’s enquiry.
Back then officials, including Lorgat who was chief executive from 2012 onwards, had asked for patience and trust. The new board and the chief executive it appoints may ask for the same this time, but they must also be wary that the public and the country’s players have grown tired of the administrative disasters that have beset that organisation. Trust will be earned based on action.
Stability, honesty and leadership is paramount for CSA. The pandemic and the restrictions imposed have hit the sport hard, and to recover from it, Cricket SA can’t afford to have anything like what has occurred in the last four years to cripple the federation again.
On a global level, it needs to put itself in a position, not just to further South African cricket’s interests, but to act as a bulwark against the ‘Big Three’ – India, England and Australia – who again seem to want to shape world cricket to satisfy their own ends.
The interim board’s chairman, Stavros Nicolaou, while outlining the reasons behind CSA’s complaint to the ICC about Cricket Australia cancelling its men’s team’s tour to SA at the last minute, said a “recalibration” needs to take place to assist in protecting the less wealthy nations during the pandemic.
Cricket SA’s stance on the issue is a display of leadership on the world stage, but it is a muted one, because its own house has been in such a state of disorder for so long.
To be taken seriously once more – not just by the SA players and public but the cricket world at large – that needs to be fixed.
There’s a second chance for Cricket SA on the horizon. Second chances don’t happen often, and the administrators who claim to care about the organisation and the sport, need to take it this time.