Cricket SA needs to clear its throat of the administrative shenanigans
By Stuart Hess
The letter written by Cricket South Africa to the ICC regarding Australia’s withdrawal from their Test tour to SA, was a demonstration of the kind of leadership in the world game for which CSA was once known.
As reported by espncricinfo.com, the letter outlines how Cricket Australia’s decision went "against the spirit of sportsmanship", undermined the credibility of the World Test Championship, and raises concerns over the "serious impact on the financial well-being of less-wealthy" ICC members.
Of course CSA are right in this regard. They went to the ends of the earth to try and accommodate Australia only for them to back out at the last minute. Australia’s reputation has taken a major hit, and the relations between Cricket Australia and CSA will take many months to fix.
There was a time when CSA’s voice on the world stage was one that genuinely mattered. It took on a leadership role in the global game that others followed, with the likes of Ray Mali being ICC president, Dave Richardson, the chief executive and Steve Elworthy overseeing World Cups.
That quality of leadership is no longer there. And so CSA’s voice on the world stage has been reduced mainly by the juvenile administrative shenanigans which have beset the organisation especially in the last three years.
While the letter written to the ICC this week is extremely relevant and ethically on point at a challenging time for the sport, where leadership from the ICC has been lacking terribly, the rest of the cricket world (not the “big three”) no longer looks to CSA for the kind of enlightened and balanced perspective it once provided.
Not only has CSA’s reputation been eviscerated in SA, but abroad as well. How many different chief executives and presidents have represented CSA at ICC level in the last few years?
The reputational damage suffered by CSA couldn’t have happened at a worse time either, with the Covid-19 pandemic creating a “free for all” in terms of scheduling in which the “big three” have sort to look after themselves.
It is absolutely critical for CSA that the interim board - now chaired by Stavros Nicalau - get their work down regarding recommendations for a new, slim, independent permanent board (those recommendations should be made public) which can then set about the task of publicly advertising for a chief executive and go through the necessary processes in appointing one.
Too much has been loaded into the in-box of the director of cricket, Graeme Smith, and he needs to be freed of some of the burden he has had to bear while CSA’s administration has lurched from crisis to crisis.
CSA’s morally powerful stance this week following Australia’s withdrawal, should be applauded by the rest of the cricket world - and in time maybe that will be the case - but while CSA’s own house remains in such a state of disorder, it’s voice, once loud and critical to the game, will remain no more than a squeak.