SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: AVUSA
SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: AVUSA

London — Relations between administrators and players crashed to a new low on Thursday when Tony Irish was barred from attending a Cricket SA meeting.

As CEO of the SA Cricketers’ Association (SACA)‚ Irish is a regular figure at the CEOs’ meeting — which is held two or three times a year and involves the affiliate CEOs‚ Cricket SA’s executive and SACA.

But Irish is not at the current meeting‚ which started at a Sandton hotel on Thursday and will continue on Friday.

Independent sources told Business Day that Irish had been barred‚ which he confirmed adding: “SACA will make a fuller statement on that at the appropriate time.”

Asked why Irish had been excluded‚ a Cricket SA spokesperson said that “those reasons will be flashed out to the media at [Friday’s] press conference”.

Cricket SA said on Saturday they would implement austerity measures and redesign the domestic game to try and alleviate the effects of what CEO Thabang Moroe told parliament in October could amount to losses of R654m over the four-year rights cycle that ends in 2022.

On Sunday Irish voiced SACA’s concerns that Cricket SA had “not properly consulted with the players’ association either on [Cricket SA’s] actual financial position or on any restructuring of the domestic structure.”

The memorandum of understanding between Cricket SA and SACA‚ Irish said‚ “requires actual agreement to any domestic restructure and the player contracts under that structure”. He said that had not happened.

A SACA release on Tuesday quoted their president‚ Omphile Ramela‚ saying  Cricket SA were ignoring the players’ attempts to engage on the issue.

“SACA has formally written to Cricket SA twice in the last six weeks to express its concerns relating to Cricket SA’s financial position‚” Ramela said. “To date we haven’t received any reply at all to those letters.”

Irish was quoted as saying that implementing the austerity measures “is likely to lead to at least 70 players losing their contracts and many other players at franchise level having their earnings reduced”.

Cricket SA’s restructuring plan includes dismantling the franchise system of six teams that has served as SA's highest level of domestic cricket since 2004-05 and replacing it with a 12-team provincial structure.