JOHANNESBURG - Cricket SA and the players union - the SA Cricketers Association - hope that a protracted period of discontent will end in the coming days once the Memorandum of Understanding is signed between the two parties.
Negotiations about the MoU - which deals with contracts, player remuneration and benefits among other issues - have dragged on since April, having started three months later than usual, and led to much angst between employers, CSA and Saca.
Thabang Moroe, confirmed as CSA’s new chief executive earlier this week, said a key part of the negotiations with Saca was ensuring the sovereignty of CSA. “What we wanted to do as Cricket SA was re-affirm our position as the employer. “Players are employed by Cricket SA that needs to be recognised,” said Moroe.
Last December, Moroe stirred up a hornet’s nest when he implied that Saca had too much power and that the players needed to fall in line with CSA. That caused plenty of anger among professional cricketers in the country, although this week Moroe claimed it was largely a misunderstanding.
“There was a perception out there about a divide between the players and CSA but that was never the case. As far as the Proteas national men's team is concerned, there was never a divide between us or the franchise players,” said Moroe. “In fact players who were confused, called me, I cleared things up for the players, made them aware of my stance, and what I was hoping to achieve. I had the players support.”
That may have been the case from Moroe’s side, but Saca on Wednesday described the relations between the players and CSA as “strained” as the negotiations about the MoU dragged on. “The delays in the MoU have been frustrating,” said Saca’s chief executive Tony Irish. “(The delays) have put some strain on the relationship between the players and CSA and Saca, but we expect that to start settling down once the MoU is signed.”
Irish and Moroe agree it’s a case of "dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s" with regard to signing the lengthy and comprehensive agreement and despite the second deadline of July 6 having already passed, they will sign in the next few days. “Tony can attest, as rigorous as the process has been, we are happy to have gone through (it). We found one another, honestly we are 99% done as far as the Saca document is concerned,” said Moroe.
One part of the agreement will include a ‘recognition agreement’ between CSA and Saca that formally outlines and formalises the relationship between the two bodies. Although Moroe emphasised that Cricket SA or the franchises needed to be the players’ first port of call should they have a grievance; in that regard according to Irish, nothing has changed.
“Of course we’d like grievances to be settled internally first just like in any business, and that will continue to be the case, but the players, the nationally contracted ones and the franchise players, know and do always come to Saca to assist in resolving issues,” said Irish.
Contracts for the country’s female players have also been included as part of the new MoU. There has been an increase in the players’ salaries, as well as the number of contracted players, while they will also be receiving other benefits which had previously only been the preserve of their male counterparts.
“They have a revenue share module with Saca, something they never had, we are pushing Saca to assist us to give some of the players bursaries, having personal development plans for some of them,” said Moroe. "There is a lot which has changed for the players in the last eight months. Everything that comes to you from a money point of view is results-driven, so they need to do their bit, in order for us to do we what want to from a commercial point of view.”