Proteas coach Mark Boucher speaks to journalists at the end of day three's play during the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Saturday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Proteas coach Mark Boucher speaks to journalists at the end of day three's play during the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Saturday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

There are no easy fixes, only honest leadership at Cricket SA will do

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jan 30, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG – There is no point in sugar-coating South African cricket’s problems right now and fortunately for the sport the leadership aren’t doing that. 

For too long Cricket South Africa sailed along in a ship that was sinking and pretending to itself that everything was alright. Not the men’s national team, not the under 19s, the women, domestic cricket, transformation, the Mzansi Super League, the relationships with sponsors or the organisation’s finances. 

Nevermind lying to the South African public, Cricket SA kept lying to itself. The leadership was very, very bad - and sadly in the case of particularly the non-independents, that leadership remains on the Board of Directors. 

But in the shape of Mark Boucher, Graeme Smith and Jacques Faul there is a leadership trio that will tell you what’s wrong. People won’t like it, but they need to hear it and Smith, Boucher and Faul will tell you. 

Jacques Faul, interim Cricket South Africa CEO addresses media during the CSA Press Conference at the Inter-Continental Hotel at the OR Tambo Airport in December 2019. Photo: BackpagePix

Unfortunately what they can’t do at this point is fix it. They can’t even say how they will fix it because trying to ascertain the depth and complexity of the problems takes more than six weeks.

Again, a lot of people don’t want to hear that - “excuses, excuses, they said they will fix it,” is all you hear shouted by the brigade, who will tell you the problems but turn mute when you ask for a possible solution. 

Solutions will take time. Think for a moment how long it took for Cricket South Africa’s relationship with the country’s players association to break down and reach the point where the SA Cricketers Association took Cricket SA to court.

It was 18 months from when the now suspended Thabang Moroe said he won’t accept listening to a union, to SACA filing papers with the Johannesburg High Court. Anyone who thinks fixing problems of the kind Cricket SA has in just six weeks, is living in a dream.

It is the case with the Proteas as well. Boucher has taken on a mammoth task. This is a Proteas Test team that has capped 11 new players in its last 10 Tests, has deep flaws in the batting and a captain whose time in that position is reaching the end. 

These aren’t easy times for Boucher, he is going to need time to sort them out. 

The same goes for Faul as he pores over all the problems in Cricket SA’s office - described as a toxic atmosphere - while trying to restore relations with sponsors, locally and abroad, all with a forensic audit taking place. Or Smith, like Faul, employed on an interim basis, who needs money - lots of it - which isn’t there, but still needs to find ways to make the system work in order that it produces players of international quality while retaining expertise at domestic level to assist those coming through. 

CSA Director of Cricket Graeme Smith. Photo: BackpagePix

None of this easy and it’s been made worse by the ineptitude of administrators, many of whom continue to hold onto their positions at CSA. 

So yes, many people won’t like reading or hearing this, but to fix all the problems to clean the many messy piles in South African cricket will take time.

There are no easy fixes here. Things will be hard - they may even get harder - but what is needed is patience and honesty. Those are two words I’ve mentioned a lot in the last six months, and they are two words well worth repeating. Be patient and Cricket SA had better be honest.

IOL Sport and The Star cricket scribe Stuart Hess.
@shockerhess

 

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