Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe. Picture: GALLO IMAGES /SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe. Picture: GALLO IMAGES /SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

Cricket SA were summoned to a meeting late on Monday by their biggest sponsor, Standard Bank, after the ongoing fallout from their attempt to ban five journalists from covering Mzansi Super League games on Sunday.

Cricket SA’s decision was greeted by wide condemnation from the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef)‚ the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) and the nation’s cricket lovers.

The bank is the title sponsor of the men’s Test and ODI teams, while it also looks after some of Cricket SA’s development projects.

In a statement issued on Monday‚ Standard Bank group chief marketing officer Thulani Sibeko said the bank needs to be aware of what takes place from an administrative perspective.

“In recognition of the widespread interest in and support for cricket‚ we value the right of South Africans and the broader cricket community to know about developments within Cricket SA‚ especially those that relate to governance and conduct‚” Sibeko said.

Stuart Hess‚ Ken Borland‚ Neil Manthorp‚ Telford Vice and Firdose Moonda had their accreditations revoked by Cricket SA.

Hess was not able to attend the Jozi Stars vs Paarl Rocks game at the Wanderers, while Manthorp‚ Moonda and Vice were denied access at Newlands to cover the Cape Town Blitz vs Tshwane Spartans fixture.

In a radio interview‚ Cricket SA CEO Thabang Moroe admitted the accreditations were revoked because the organisation is unhappy with the reporting in various media outlets.

In a statement‚ Sanef said Cricket SA’s actions must be fiercely resisted.

“Sanef believes Cricket SA’s actions will have a chilling effect on the media’s ability to cover all aspects of cricket‚ not just what happens on the field of play‚ but also what happens behind closed doors where the sport is administered.

“Cricket SA’s actions smack of bullying‚ are unacceptable and must be fiercely resisted to preserve the independence of the media and journalists’ ability to report without fear or favour‚” the statement said.

“Moroe’s statements are deeply concerning. Journalists must be allowed to do their job of holding those in power accountable without fear of intimidation or that they will be prevented from doing their job.

“Moroe and Cricket SA have a duty to respect the independence of journalists without resorting to bully tactics. This is bound to have the opposite effect of what Cricket SA and Moroe would want to achieve.”

Saca are locked in an ongoing legal battle with Cricket SA about the restructuring of the domestic game from the 2020/2021 season.

Saca have consistently said that Cricket SA did not consult them properly on the changes that will result in the six franchises being disbanded‚ with the 13 affiliates being the main source of player production.

Saca also recently gave Cricket SA a notice of dispute about commercial fees owed from the 2018 MSL.

This led to the suspension of three Cricket SA officials in COO  Naasei Appiah‚ sponsorship and sales head Clive Eksteen and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl.

Saca CEO Tony Irish said what happened to the five journalists is similar to what the association has endured from Cricket SA.

“It’s a sorry state of affairs when attempts are made to silence respected journalists for writing about the ongoing problems in the game.

“This is not‚ however‚ dissimilar to what Saca has had to endure over the past nine months‚ during which we have been barred from Cricket SA subcommittees‚ denied access to critical information necessary for us to represent the players and had our agreements breached with impunity ‚” Irish said.

“Many of the concerns we have are not even related to the high court application yet Cricket SA continues to refuse to address them.

“Now in the last week there are added concerns relating to ‘unknown selectors’ selecting the Proteas team and the barring of cricket journalists from matches.

“It is clear to us that things are getting worse‚ not better.”