JOHANNESBURG - “How did it get to this?” “Where do we go from here?”
Those are the two questions I’ve been asked the most in what has been the most remarkable few days of covering cricket that I have ever experienced.
How it got to this point is Cricket South Africa’s administrators not paying heed to the recommendations contained in Judge Chris Nicholson’s report in 2012.
Remember, Nicholson chaired a commission of inquiry into the “bonus scandal” when former Cricket SA chief executive Gerald Majola illegitimately paid himself some extra money while the board looked the other way.
As part of his remedies for CSA’s administrative problems, Judge Nicholson recommended a smaller board dominated by independent directors.
Then the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee - that bastion of transparent and modern administrative excellence - cried foul, saying that was not how sport is run.
It was convenient for cricket’s provincial presidents to listen, so they decided to pick seven non-independent and five independent directors for their board, thus ignoring Nicholson.
“While Sascoc’s reasons for geopolitical representation on the Boards of all sports organisations are understood, the application thereof to governance structures of major professional sports codes is questionable,” said Dr Willie Basson in February 2013 as he stepped down as CSA’s interim president.
Then he added, ominously given what is taking place right now with CSA: “If enforced without careful consideration of the implications thereof, much of what has been gained from the Nicholson process could be negated.”
And here we are, with a board that, as CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe admitted in August, allowed him to take on more of its responsibilities. He has destroyed CSA’s relationship with the players, utterly stuffed up the post-World Cup repair that the Proteas desperately needed, gotten CSA involved in two court cases - one of which they lost - failed to attract new sponsors, angered those sponsors that still support cricket, overseen a T20 league that is haemorrhaging cash, banned journalists, and completely lost the respect of the South African public.
So, where to from here? Well, as I’ve written, more than once, Moroe simply has to leave CSA. If he doesn’t resign, he should be fired. CSA president Chris Nenzani can join him, and so should board member Jack Madiseng a close ally of Moroe and president of Gauteng cricket. In that latter position, Madiseng has overseen bitter political in-fighting in the province; he is no unifier.
Some kind of temporary leadership needs to be put in place - an independent panel to oversee affairs and perhaps someone like Northerns Cricket Union CEO Jacques Faul, who also did a similar rescue job in 2012, to act as CSA’s chief executive for a few months.
In the meanwhile, a complete administrative clean-out needs to take place.
Graeme Smith needs to be made Director of Cricket and he has to be given the freedom and support to fix the broken structures around the Proteas.
In the long term, Smith - hopefully with assistance from leading experts from within cricket but importantly, other sectors too - can create a sustainable domestic structure that from junior level upwards, including the women’s game, can help to make the South African team a strong one again.
Ultimately it is that which is important. A competitive and successful Proteas team is what the public wants. It is CSA’s job to ensure that is created. This current lot of leadership have failed in that regard.