Renewed fears for the future of South African cricket emerged on Tuesday as the standoff between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) intensifies.
The two parties are currently engaged in a court battle related to the governing body’s refusal to provide the players union with detailed information on its true financial position, which also prompted the restructuring of domestic cricket as a cost-saving measure.
And now, further fuel has been poured onto the fire with CSA’s much-publicised announcement that the national team’s coaching structure will be revamped in a move that critics believe attempts to shift professional players’ loyalty back to the federation and away from Saca.
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Thabang Moroe, CSA’s chief executive, insists that despite “differences” persisting, there’s still communication taking place.
“There’s no breakdown in the relationship,” he said at a media briefing.
“We continue to talk with Tony Irish (Saca’s CEO). In fact, (CSA) president Chris Nenzani had an informal chat with him in London and our board treasurer as well. Saca has agreed to a meeting to iron out these matters. What CSA need to do now is to determine dates and extend an invitation to Saca to agree to a particular date. Saca continues to be a key part of CSA.”
However, Irish emphatically disputes CSA’s view on the matter.
“That’s definitely not correct. Saca is of the view that there’s been a significant breakdown in the relationship between itself and CSA,” he told The Citizen.
“To be honest, the fact that we’re engaged in a court case says everything that to be said. We’ve continually insisted on CSA providing us with an accurate picture on its finances and various other information. The fact that this isn’t happening means there have been several breaches of 2018’s memorandum of understanding (MOU).”
Significantly, Saca’s representation on various CSA sub-committees has vanished over the past few years.
“We’re not on any committee anymore. There’s a systemic process of marginalising Saca in South African cricket.”
While Moroe expressed hopes that engagement between the parties would lead to Saca’s litigation being withdrawn, he nonetheless didn’t exactly provide the assurance that the federation is actively trying to avoid it at all costs.
“It would be irresponsible for me to say ‘no, it isn’t our hope to go to court at all costs’. If we have to, we will in order to defend our view (on the domestic restructuring and finances). But yes, it is our hope not to go to court. We’re still a family with Saca and we shoud, as symbolic family, be able to sit around a table and discuss our differences.
“We need to trash out our differences and even if one party still isn’t happy to an extent, it needs to be irrelevant. What’s important is that cricket still benefits. If we go to court, irrespective of who wins, cricket will be the loser. We’re going to use money that we’re trying to save paying lawyers.”