The revocation of five journalists accreditations last weekend was a horrible embarrassment for Cricket South Africa – they had no idea of the international outrage it would cause – but it was also a great shame that it distracted attention from the two, far more serious issues.
Good governance and the England tour are far more pressing.
Outrage at the clumsy attempt to gag journalists from exercising their right to free speech was perfectly understandable, but attention must return as quickly as possible to whatthey were writing about, not their rights.
Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe called me on Tuesday morning to apologise for the embarrassment caused when I arrived at Newlands to commentate on the Mzansi Super League match between Cape Town Blitz and Tshwane Spartans and was refused entrance.
I wasn’t embarrassed at all. Standing outside the stadium for almost an hour gave me a fabulous opportunity to interact with fans and experience the queues they have to endure to buy match tickets. It was instructive to hear how widespread the disillusion is amongst the paying public. I was confused and upset that a dear administrative official at the ground whom I have known for 25 years was placed in a position of refusing me entry. She did not deserve that.
Moroe’s apologies to my colleagues and me are not insignificant because they are evidence of decent behaviour and, to my ear anyway, sincere. But they are, with respect, irrelevant. Absolutely nothing in the big picture changes because he said ‘sorry’.
Thabang Moroe has presided over two High Court cases in the last six months against two organisations which should count amongst his strongest allies. He (and CSA) were humiliated in the Arbitration Award against them by Advocate Ginsburg SC in the dispute with Western Province Cricket Association, and there will be further derision when the dispute with the Players Association (SACA) is finally resolved. CSA’s legal fees are estimated to be in the region of R5million. WPCA were awarded costs. SACA will be, too.
Moroe and SACA chief executive, Tony Irish, were the signatories on a rights agreement between CSA and the players for the first edition of the MSL. A payment of R2.4million due to the players was not made for nine months after it was due. Moroe was the only person authorised to make the payment. He suspended three of his most senior administrators pending an investigation into “dereliction of duty” for the non-payment. My repeated questioning on this is issue was, presumably, why my accreditation was suspended.
CSA has an MOU with SACA which explicitly lays out the requirement for consultation on any decision taken which affects the livelihoods and careers of the country’s professional players. CSA’s decision to fundamentally restructure the domestic game, resulting in the loss of around 70 players careers, has never been properly discussed with SACA.
Given the revenue-share model of the MOU, the players have a legal right to know how CSA is doing financially. What income is being generated, what are the expenses. Basic stuff. Which is exactly what CSA provided to SACA. VERY basic stuff. A few ‘bottom lines’ which made no sense, even to cricketers. When they consulted their accountant friends, they were told the numbers were ‘fantasy’.
England arrive in two weeks. Faf du Plessis and his ‘squad’ have absolutely no idea of… anything. There is no convenor of selectors because there are no selectors. There is no Director of Cricket. Enoch Nkwe is the interim head coach. Presumably his interim team of assistants which accompanied him on the disastrous tour of India remain, but who knows?
At midday on Tuesday CSA president, Chris Nenzani, and Moroe, announced a press conference at 6:00 pm. Late notice. A lot of people changed schedules in order to be there. Two hours later, they changed their minds. It will be on Saturday now, after a Board meeting. Twenty days before the first Test against England.
At every step of the journey, the CSA executive display their total lack of understanding of cricket’s unique workings. Strategies and team composition need to be discussed months before a major series. Captains and senior players need to prepare, physically and mentally, before six weeks of hard sporting combat on the field.
Saturday’s board meeting is already far too late. But if the remaining directors have any conscience – or care for the game – they might remember that the national team pays their fat retainers and, ultimately, the rest of our salaries.
Appoint (beg) Graeme Smith to take immediate control as Director of Cricket and re-appoint (beg) Linda Zondi to assemble a selection panel as convenor. 2019 has been a horrible year for South African cricket but a good deal of talent and wisdom has been thrown out with the rubbish – by people who aren’t qualified to do so.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.