Hark! Is that good news, yonder?

Bad news sells better than good news and it’s easier to report. There are exceptions, of course, but generally, they prove the rule that people are more likely to read, watch or listen to a story with death, disaster or destruction in it than one with happiness, contentment and satisfaction. Sad but true.

Perhaps that’s why we all wrote, read and listened to the tales of CSA’s imminent financial ruin with such interest when India’s BCCI cynically slashed its tour to South Africa last year. And why nobody seems to have noticed, let alone care about what has happened in the aftermath.

There was no exaggeration in the reporting of the potential losses caused by BCCI president N.Srinivasan’s brinkmanship. Hyperbole wasn’t needed – it really was an impending disaster according to the figures on the spreadsheets. They were even clear enough for sports journalists to understand.

The projected loss to CSA based on forecast revenue for the India tour was in the region of R200m. Some estimates put the number considerably higher.

So when the year-end accounts were finalised on 30 April, how on earth did they reflect a shortfall of ‘just’ R20m on projected profits for the year? It is a cause for great celebration for everybody involved in the business of cricket in this country, yet there’s barely been a paragraph in a newspaper, let alone a full story. Everyone’s probably sick and tired of administration stories, and understandably so.

But it is worth having another look. How on earth was this potential disaster, which threatened grassroots cricket, development programmes, High Performance initiatives and even the future of Provincial Cricket averted? By a combination of hard work – and luck!

The hard work involved an unprecedented overview of the structure of the game – how it was organised and funded, even the structure of the tournaments. Every expense was picked over with a fine tooth comb (or whatever the accountancy equivalent is) and savings were made at literally every pit stop. Around R50m worth.

Provincial and Franchise travel and accommodation bookings will now be centralised and completed by one expert, rather than a dozen amateurs. Airlines and hotel chains have been incentivised to offer substantial discounts on the basis of bulk orders. It is just a single example of scores of changes which have cut the fat and inefficiency out of the system.

The ‘luck’ part of the equation was worth at least as much as the hard work and it involves the exchange rate against the US dollar. At the time television contracts were negotiated, the Rand was hovering around 7:1. By the time the dollars were paid, the Rand had collapsed to 10 and a half to one. It was worth many millions of unexpected Rand to CSA.

So the system is healthy again, as most systems are when they lose weight. The baggage has gone. Leaner, meaner and fitter, but without a salary cut or involuntary job loss in sight, the people who run the game deserve, at least, some acknowledgement – if not a gentle round of applause.


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