Nathi Mthethwa. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU
Nathi Mthethwa. Photo: SANDILE NDLOVU

Congratulations Mr Minister and the interim board (IB) as well as the Protea captains, the SA Cricketers Association (Saca) and the Cricket SA staff for the pressure applied on the inept members council (MC). The Government Gazette ultimatum was a master stroke of negotiation by the minister.

Oh, the tribulations of writing a fortnightly column when events move at the speed of light! On Sunday afternoon I wrote my first draft thus: The Cricket SA shenanigans have become a game of charades as we attempt to decipher what each group is expressing from the clues they act out.

The IB and minister Nathi Mthethwa are the only ones we can interpret. They have been clear, transparent and upfront. The MC and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) do not even understand what is at stake as they connive to delay, obstruct and confuse — in plain sight! That is the sadness — there is no finesse even in their deception.

What they have said to justify their current position undermining the only way forward reveals their inability to grasp the core issues. Sascoc, which originally referred the matter of Cricket SA to the minister, jumped in at the last minute to justify their very existence. Well, they failed, and their subterfuge illustrated why they should not be involved at all.

By their actions, the MC and Sascoc have highlighted the question: “Do these current bodies have the desire or right to lead our sport that is played with love, passion, dedication and skill by amateurs and professionals?” The MC and Sascoc just sit in their “wicker” chairs, as Tommy Bedford used to call the suits, and attempt to look important.

I just have to assume that by the time this column is published the MC have agreed to the memorandum of incorporation before the Government Gazette deadline of April 29.

Still today, the question remains: “Why had the MC failed to see what is right and good for cricket in SA?” In my questioning of past and current players and fans over the past two weeks, only two reasons stand out.

1. The board members need their salary. It is said that the Cricket SA board are the highest paid cricket board in the world.

2. Most provinces have been loaned millions of rand by Cricket SA. If they are called in, those provincial structures will collapse.

Those are the only responses that can be published.

Rihan Richards, the Cricket SA president, is one of the oldest serving members of the council and has seen it all. He should have been the one to lead SA cricket to the promised land out of the desert he had helped create. His desire to keep that status quo astonishes us all.

The minister magnificently played his own game of poker. For Cricket SA to be cast aside by the minister and then the International Cricket Council would have been catastrophic. Yet, even in the death throes of the negotiation, the MC could not see it. They had to be persuaded.

So, we all breathe again with relief and great sadness. Sadness that our sport is so poorly run when the country is bursting at its seams with wonderful players.

All we have taken is the first small step — nothing more. The MC is the tip of the inept cricket leadership iceberg. The provincial board members who abstained or voted against the adoption of the IB proposals are also to blame. They failed to take even a cursory look at the ramifications of their actions. This is not just about the MC.

In the time of Covid, the Cricket SA executive, provincial management and the professional players were in the precarious position of not knowing whether they would lose their livelihoods. These men and women relentlessly worked long hours for the good of the game. Thank you for your service to cricket. You deserve the best sports leadership in the country.

The next steps will decide SA cricket’s fate. The provincial boards and the MC need to embrace the New Deal with all their heart — if they cannot, they must resign or be drummed out. The choice of the Cricket SA chair, independent and MC board directors will either enable or disable SA cricket. It is essential that those member councillors chosen as Cricket SA board directors must not, under any circumstances, include any who initially voted against the memorandum. They have done enough damage.

Down the line the decision as to whether the MC has any relevance at all will be discussed. For my book, they can at best wave the flag. Sascoc is not far behind.


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