JOHANNESBURG – Cricket South Africa’s chief executive, Thabang Moroe confirmed Tuesday that a contract extension for Ottis Gibson had been agreed to in principle in February, but that it wasn’t signed to due to the addition of extra, new clauses.
Internal documents seen by Independent Media, show Cricket South Africa’s Board of Directors had agreed in principle to offer Gibson a two year contract extension following the Board’s meeting on February 1 this year. The Board even went so far as to ask one of the Directors, Steve Cornelius, to draft a new contract that would be presented to Gibson.
That never happened. Instead informal discussions took place according to Moroe, between him, Gibson and the current acting Director of Cricket, Corrie van Zyl.
"(Gibson) said could not immediately agree until he saw what the contract looked like,” Moroe remarked Tuesday. As a result, before the team left for England no contract extension was signed and Moroe explained that the Board instead reverted back to Gibson’s original contract which had a stipulation that Gibson help the team achieve success at the World Cup.
That didn’t happen, with the Proteas failing horribly and winning just three out of nine matches.
However the internal correspondence shows that not everyone within South African cricket was pulling in the same direction, something that led to an acrimonious relationship between Gibson and Cricket SA's senior administration, especially Moroe, in the months leading up to the tournament.
Gibson was angered by plans that Moroe had the final say on each Proteas starting team, a policy that had caused much angst at the 2015 World Cup and which many within the team and on the outside have viewed as the primary reason for the Proteas failing to win their semi-final against New Zealand that year.
That policy was subsequently abandoned, but at the same February 1 Board meeting where Gibson’s contract extension was agreed to, it was also agreed it would be implemented again. None of which was communicated to Gibson, the rest of the team’s management or selection convenor Linda Zondi. Instead they found out by accident and Gibson then sent an inquiry to Cricket SA’s president, Chris Nenzani, expressing his concern about a decision that Gibson claimed “materially affected the way I do things.”
The correspondence indicates - and was confirmed by Moroe on Tuesday - that Moroe was told by Nenzani to put the selection policy on hold for the remaining period leading up to the World Cup.
Moroe in his communication to Gibson at the time and again on Tuesday cited government pressure regarding Cricket SA’s achieving its transformation targets as reasons for wanting to reignite the oversight policy. Three days after the February 1 Board meeting it was decided that the selectors would have the final say on the composition of the team.
The worry over targets related to concerns by Gibson, Zondi and the team’s management about the workloads of Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.
Rabada and Ngidi’s presence in the squad would affect the transformation targets, but in both those cases, their workloads needed to be managed.
Gibson was particularly concerned about the players going to the IPL and expressed those concerns as far back as January calling on CSA's administrators to ensure especially that that quartet return early from India, as was the case for the England and Australia’s World Cup bound players.
As it turned out, Ngidi missed the IPL due to injury.
However in April, one correspondence from Gibson to Moroe, sees the then Proteas coach pleading with the CEO to provide information about the players' return. It is understood the players were happy to comeback early even if it meant a small hit to their wallets.
Rabada eventually did come back earlier only because of a lower back ailment, but both Du Plessis and de Kock played in the IPL final, only returning to South Africa, the night before the pre-World Cup camp started.