Wonderful win hides local woes

When the national team wins the world of South African cricket is rosy again. All is well in the wonderful world of cricket when Justin Kemp hits 80 off 50 balls and the team holds its collective nerve in the face of Kevin Pietersen’s remorseless onslaught. Nothing else matters.

For those who are interested, however, the national game and its custodians are in a state of desperate flux. The idea of the national game’s new found domestic structure ‘collapsing’ is far fetched, of course, but there are mountains to climb in order to get everything fixed up and running again without the bitterness and anger that soured the first season of Franchise cricket.

To recap: Griquas believed the system and structures employed to decide where the six new Franchises would be based was fatally flawed. They contended that the United Cricket Board did not apply due diligence to the process and they refused to be uncomfortably coupled with Free State as the junior partner in the central Franchise when they believed they offered a superior package. And they argued, in a 400 page document, that the UCB had treated them with disdain and contempt.

The UCB, at enormous cost, prepared their defense and contended that they had acted with fairness and respect. The case has been heading for the highest court in the land for over six months now and the legal bills have been mounting faster than either Kemp or Pietersen could ever hope to accumulate runs. Hundreds of thousands of rand rather than just hundreds.

Just a few days ago, however, as they have done with the last six legal cases they have contested, the UCB decided that their chances, in front of a judge in court, were not very good. Griquas, having obtained legal opinions from the best men in the business, were certain they could prove incompetence, unprofessionalism and even neglect. So the UCB decided to talk.

They have agreed to review their assessment that Free State were best equipped to host the Franchise.

The trouble is, if there was a problem with the Central Franchise, then why wasn’t there a problem with the others? Why, for example, was Border awarded the Eastern Cape Franchise ahead of Eastern Province? By admitting that they may have erred, been over hasty or even negligent (which they have effectively done by agreeing to review Griquas case), the UCB have opened a can that contains more than a single worm.

If the UCB believed they were being magnanimous by agreeing to review Griquas’ case, they have received a rude wake-up call from the men in Kimberley. So confident are they of their case that they have agreed to the UCB’s review – but have so far refused to abandon their legal case. In other words, they believe, if the UCB do not overturn their own decision in awarding the Franchise to Free State, then they will go ahead with their challenge in court. And probably win.

Why is this important to you and me? Because it is just the latest example of the deep and dangerous lack of accountability of the men who run the game in this country. Who says they can spend another million rand defending their own incompetence? Who questions it? Who do they have to report to? A government board? A board of executives? No. Millions of rand have been spent – perhaps ‘wasted’ or even ‘squandered’ would be better words – without the men writing the cheques ever having to explain themselves.

So enjoy the cricket, and relish a winning team, because that’s why we love the game. But remember, quietly, that you – the paying, loving fans – are the very people to whom the game’s rulers should be accountable.

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