Faf Du Plessis. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES
Faf Du Plessis. Picture: SYDNEY SESHIBEDI/GALLO IMAGES

If the road to restoration for the Proteas after their series defeat by England is of the long and winding variety, then the path for Cricket SA’s boardroom in search of credibility is a similar slog.

Having decided in the first week of December to suspend their CEO Thabang Moroe and agree to a forensic audit after “possible failure of controls in the organisation”, the Cricket SA process has taken an inordinate amount of time to get going.

Only now have the terms of reference been agreed but the service provider who will conduct the audit is yet to be determined. While that process should not be too drawn out, completing the review could be a time-consuming affair. From the moment the review committee convenes, it will have 90 days to wrap up proceedings.

“That means we are probably looking at wrapping this up only in May,” a Cricket SA insider said.

Asked whether the terms of reference give the review committee sufficient scope to fully interrogate the allegations, the source said: “I suppose that is the difference between a proper forensic audit and a review. The one would specifically deal with scratching and digging more and that is what we are hoping to achieve here. It will certainly look at things like irregular spending and mismanagement. I think the idea is to be comprehensive.”

If restoring credibility through a thorough forensic audit at Cricket SA takes a little longer, then so be it. As is so often the case, however, the same luxury does not apply to on-the-field matters. There will be much soul searching in the wake of the national team crashing to their third successive Test series defeat this week.

Graeme Smith, new in his job as director of cricket, will have to implement a turnaround strategy that not only meets immediate demands, but also serves as a long-term agenda. Smith and the coaching staff may have vast cricketing experience but they are yet to find their feet in their respective positions.

It also does not help that the team is in transition, with several new faces introduced, captain Faf du Plessis going off the boil, and premier bowler Kagiso Rabada getting himself suspended.

One of the short-term solutions suggested to Smith is to engage the England Cricket Board (ECB) so that SA players with Kolpak contracts again become eligible for the national team. The argument has merit when you accept that keeping the top talent in the country is a near-futile exercise. Rugby embraced the concept of involving foreign-based players and it benefited hugely at the 2019 World Cup as a result.

Finding longer-term solutions may be harder to come by for Smith. He needs to interrogate if the money spent on developing players is prioritised in the way it ought to be, and he will have to introduce systems that fast-track black talent into the Test team. Unearthing black batters, in particular, has to be prioritised.

Smith knows all too well that nothing smooths the path to the Test arena like the sheer weight of runs. The director of cricket has his hands full.