ODI series crucial amidst admin change

The Proteas’ 3-0 drubbing in the T20 International series against England may – or may not – have consequences as we head towards the T20 World Cup in eleven months time. The series itself counts for nothing. The ramifications, good and bad, will be a distant memory for all but the combatants once the world’s best T20 nations line-up in India in October next year.

The ODI series, however, which begins at Newlands on Friday, has immediate relevance for both teams. It is the first of eight three-match series to be played in the World Cup Super League which guarantees qualification for the 2023 World Cup.

The 13-team Super League comprises the 12-Test playing nations and the Netherlands with each playing eight series against random other nations, four at home and four away, with the top seven automatically qualifying for the World Cup along with hosts India. The bottom five will enter a second qualifying tournament, along with three further Associate nations, with the top two also qualifying for the World Cup.

England will qualify as surely as the sun will rise, and the same could be said for South Africa, although with a little less certainty. If they lose 3-0 again, however, and then stumble against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, they could find themselves with very few points and chances running out. Ten points are awarded for each win.

Should the Proteas find themselves in seventh or eighth place with half their series played, pressure will mount. Suddenly the three-match series against the Netherlands in The Hague next year, or Ireland in Dublin, won’t seem quite the holiday it looks like now. Could the mighty Proteas be forced into a repechage with the likes of Zimbabwe, Namibia and Scotland? Possibly.

Meanwhile, Cricket South Africa is being purged by the Interim Board of Directors. On Tuesday it was announced that CSA company secretary, Welsh Gwaza, was suspended on full pay until a disciplinary hearing on December 14. His hand has been on the tiller of the organisation for at least 18 months and he has many questions to answer, should he choose to do so.

Gwaza is/was the ‘quiet’ commanding force behind CSA. He sat on every committee, in either an acting or observing capacity, and pulled the strings of those in higher positions. When Acting CEO Jacques Faul and President Chris Nenzani resigned, their correspondence was re-directed to Gwaza. At the penultimate meeting of the Members Council before they finally approved the appointment of the Interim Board, Gwaza advised them to oppose Minister of Sport Nathie Mthethwa and assured them of a strong legal case for damages and loss of income should the England tour be cancelled.

Should such a course of action have transpired, the professional game in South Africa would not have been crippled. It would have been killed out right.

Many of us who have watched and reported on the self-serving administrative chaos over the last two or three years have welcomed the Interim Board as saviours. Six of the nine members are genuinely independent and serving purely for the restoration of the game’s reputation. Chairman Zak Yaqoob (pictured) and de facto board spokesperson, Judith February, are taking no fees. Neither are former ICC and CSA CEO, Haroon Lorgat, nor Stavros Nicolaou.

The Members Council, which refused to ratify the new board 13 days after promising the Minister that they would do so, had been asked to nominate three of the nine. At least one of those three is reporting the contents of board meetings directly back to disgraced, sacked former CEO, Thabang Moroe – who is feeding twisted versions of events to one media outlet. Which is publishing them.

When I said we welcomed the Interim Board as ‘saviours’, that does not mean they are above and beyond questioning. Indeed, board chairman, retired judge Zak Yaqoob, implored journalists to question their work when he spoke to the media for an hour two weeks ago. The lack of transparency of the previous board, he said, is exactly what the Interim Board are striving to avoid.

Two stories have been written in the last two days which stated, as fact, that Gwaza’s suspension was carried out against the wishes of the majority of the new board and that correct ‘procedure’ had not been followed. It was said that the confiscation of Gwaza’s company laptop, too, was irregular and against the wishes of the majority of board members.

“We said in our statement that these were majority decisions but they were made by a majority of the directors which is standard governance procedure,” February said. “Unfortunately we were expecting some attempts to derail our task with disinformation, but we will not be deterred. Our brief is to restore the credibility of CSA and the public’s confidence in it, and that is what we intend to do.”

It is a herculean task.

“The lack of internal controls in the organisation is quite obvious. The lists of credit card expenditure in the Fundudzi Report alone, the gratuitous expenditure, gives you a sense of the toxic culture in the organisation.

“We have paid very close attention to our fiduciary responsibilities in terms of the Companies Act. We are obviously looking at the conduct of Moroe but, at the same time, there must have been people who enabled him, either in the executive or on the board of the Members Council. The question going forward is, how do we prevent that?”

 

The Machiavellian plots and sub-plots, sadly, are just beginning. Moroe is suing CSA for wrongful dismissal, Gwaza is fighting for his future and any number of former directors want, or need, to keep as much under the carpet as possible.

 

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