Rebuilding trust, and not bidding for World Cups, should be Cricket SA's main priority
JOHANNESBURG - Long before any bids can be launched for World Cups, Cricket South Africa’s new administration needs to engender trust.
That will take a long time; months, years even and understandably so. Building the first vestiges of that trust will take place over the next few weeks. It’ll start with the make-up of that six-person nominations committee that will pore over candidates for the eight independent directors for the new board.
It will continue with the selection of five nominees from the midst of the beleaguered Members Council, who will serve on that board, then through the processes to appoint a permanent chief executive officer and chief financial officer who will also serve on the board.
There is also the final report from the Interim Board, which will outline its findings and directives based on the nine-point mandate it was tasked with resolving by Nathi Mthethwa. Then there’s the successful hosting of the Annual General Meeting in June and then the real work on rebuilding the public, players and sponsors trust starts.
While many have viewed the last week’s events in South African cricket as reason for cautious optimism, it really isn’t. All that the last seven days brought, culminating in Friday’s unveiling of a new Memorandum of Incorporation for CSA, was relief.
The current acting chairman of CSA’s Members Council - still the highest decision-making body in the organisation - Rihan Richards mentioned bidding for World Cups in the ICC post 2023 tournament cycle, with a specific goal being men’s 2027 50-over World Cup.
That is a novel target, but it shouldn’t be the new CSA administration’s priority. If anything, a more tangible goal, is ensuring the success of the 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup which South Africa will be hosting.
Starting next week, Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza gets to grip with the Social Justice and Nation Building initiative that will interrogate racism within cricket. It’ll be a critical few months, in which painful truths about the sport in this country will be revisited. Ntsebeza, the Transformation Ombudsman, has called for a broad spectrum of cricket’s stakeholders to submit their experiences while working in or playing the sport.
Those findings and recommendations will be critical to forging a new outlook for South African cricket and it will be the Board of Directors job to implement those recommendations.
Initially the board also needs to provide stability after a decade that has been beset with dysfunctionality. The players and CSA staff need some peace of mind to focus on their tasks, sponsors want to see some maturity and the public would like to stop listening to and reading about administrators.
Rather than antagonise the government as CSA has done in the last 18 months, there needs to be partnerships built with the Sports Ministry, Local Government and the Education department, challenging those entities to do more for the sport’s development.
There would be reason for optimism when those initiatives are being put in place. Cricket SA’s administration has been dominated by self-serving individuals for too long. Because they’ve been in the majority, they have suppressed previous attempts at reform. That cannot be allowed to happen again.
Mthethwa described the last few months as being a ‘life and death’ matter for South African cricket. The sport has taken a deep breath, but as it exhales, any sense that the tough times are over should be ignored. The hard work only really starts now.