Gerald Majola may just have made the most important decision of his tenure at the helm of the United Cricket Board. The announcement that the UCB would now deal formally with the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) means everyone within the game can now look forward with confidence to a brighter, more realistic future.
He may not enjoy it being said in public, but Majola had to swallow a bucket-load of pride to make a decision he probably hated on a personal level but, thankfully, recognised to be in the best interests of the professional game in South Africa.
Years ago (even before the national referendum) I employed the services of a man to tidy the garden of the rented house in which I was living in Johannesburg. Or rather, he took the money and hired temporary workers to complete the hard graft. He was reasonably fair, I think, but every time one of his men was late or sick or, heaven forbid, requested a longer lunch break or more money, he sacked them.
It’s a long story which I won’t go into but let me just say he lost clients regularly, lost money and eventually lost the business. Why? Because such an outdated business model can only be successful in a retarded, serf-based society or, of course, in a viciously brutal system like apartheid.
But South Africa is growing up at thrilling pace and the growing process must incorporate professional sport. Rugby and cricket in South Africa, in so many ways, remain stuck in a Louis Luyt/Ali Bacher amateur autocracy in which the players who succeed are the ones who keep quiet when the shit hits the fan and grovel obediently at the feet of men in suits.
Gerald Majola, like so many provincial bosses, felt hijacked by SACA and its president, Tony Irish. But if Irish and SACA had tried to negotiate their way into existance would they have stood a snowball’s chance in hell?
Of course not. They would have been crushed before purchasing their first lever arch file, let alone a filing cabinet.
But unlike the presidents of at least six provincial unions, Gerald Majola has shrugged off his short-sightedness and is not vowing to “fight the players all the way” like one Highveld chief executive.
Majola realises now that players should have a greater stake in the game. And lest he ever forget, with a greater stake comes greater responsibility. And with greater responsibility comes greater consequences for not upholding that responsibility. Majola will still be in charge – the irony is he may even come to wield a bigger stick than he does now, not a smaller one.
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