Some good things have happened in South African cricket over the last week, especially the way an inexperienced Proteas side withstood the heat way better than the powerful England team to snatch a thrilling one-run win in the first T20 in East London and the happy news that Cricket South Africa’s acting CEO, Jacques Faul, melted the ice with the players’ association.
Even in their Pink Day ODI defeat at the Wanderers last weekend, the Proteas still showed fight and were competitive, which is all one can ask for when a team in transition takes on the world champions.
The previous regime at CSA were fond of talking about KPIs – Key Performance Indicators – and if one had to single out the two most important KPIs that the CSA leadership have to get right in order to fulfil their mandates then they would be their showcase team – the Proteas – doing well on the field, and having strong relationships with key stakeholders in the game, of which the players are probably the most vital.
Vernon Philander’s comments in the last week merely confirmed the evidence that former CEO Thabang Moroe and the CSA Board considered the players as an almost irrelevant nuisance.
It was an incredibly shortsighted approach because the players are absolutely key to the product CSA are trying to sell – good cricket; entertaining and hopefully winning cricket.
That attracts sponsors and broadcasters, who are the other vital stakeholders in the game, obviously along with the customers (spectators and television viewers).
Media are also an important cog in the wheel of promoting the sport.
From his early days in office, Moroe was dismissive of the South African Cricketers’ Association, the players union.
During the 2017 Boxing Day Test in Port Elizabeth he told the media that CSA make the money and not the players, who are basically employees who must do what they are told.
His approach was a dictatorial one even back then when he was also just in an acting capacity, and he spoke of renegotiating their revenue-sharing deal with the players, trying to take a leaf out of Cricket Australia’s book, which ultimately led to their players going on strike.
“A trade union doesn’t have a say in our view of how our company should be run and how we engage with trade unions. There is no room for a union to intervene if CSA decide to go in a different direction. There is nothing to stop us from moving away from revenue-sharing. CSA makes the money for cricket in this country and not the players’ union,” Moroe said in Port Elizabeth.
Almost inevitably, that union-busting approach landed CSA in court and it would have cost the organisation millions of Rand as SACA zeroed in on the lack of consultation with the players when the decision was made to restructure domestic cricket.
Fortunately, Faul has brokered a deal with SACA that has seen them remove their application from the High Court roll.
But he could not do it on his own, the CSA Members Council, made up of the 14 provincial presidents, had to rescind the decision they made to restructure the local game.
Now that the Members Council have stopped behaving like couch potatoes just watching the chaos unfold, they have more vital work to do.
For it is only they who can remove the CSA Board that has so dismally failed to serve the game.
They are the ones who appointed Moroe in the first place and president Chris Nenzani was at his side through countless press conferences nodding his agreement and backing his man.
The fact that Nenzani has presided over the worst era in South African cricket history did not stop his fellow board members from voting to change the constitution so he could further extend what was already the longest ever term as president.
But cricket lovers need to be blending their desire for accountability and heads to roll with some patience and pragmatism.
The legal mechanisms to remove Nenzani, vice-president Beresford Williams and the rest of the board are complex and, given the rights to appeal, will take months to work through.
Plus we must remember, due to the way CSA’s constitution works, Nenzani and Williams also fill the two head positions on the Members Council and all the non-independent board members are on there too.
It would probably be easier and cheaper just to wait until the next AGM in August to vote off all the charlatans, however much we believe justice delayed is justice denied.
Unfortunately, we also then run the risk of the same cabal that has plunged our cricket into crisis using the progress of the last few months to consolidate their own power and return to their disastrous program of “Cricket Capture”.
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