SA Cricket magazine editor Ryan Vrede reviews an average year on the field and a disastrous one off it for South African cricket.
The Proteas came into 2020 galvanised by a Test victory over an excellent England team at SuperSport Park. What followed was brutal.
TEST MISERY VS ENGLAND
They were smashed by 189 runs in Cape Town, 191 runs in Johannesburg and an innings and 53 runs in Port Elizabeth. Any rational person would have expected an England series victory, but the gulf in class was disturbing. It drove home the magnitude of the task, especially in Test cricket, for newly-appointed coach Mark Boucher. Compounding the misery was the retirement of Vernon Philander from all forms of international cricket.
WHITE-BALL WORK IN PROGRESS
They drew the ODI series against England 1-1 and lost the T20I series 2-1, which, considering England’s immense strength in these formats, and the relatively narrow margin of most of the defeats, was a good showing.
A T20I series against Australia followed. The Proteas were schooled, losing two of the three games heavily. There was a degree of redemption in the ODIs when the Proteas whitewashed Australia in the three-game series. This was encouraging, given that the Proteas were missing Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada through planned rest and injury respectively.
CHAOS AS CORONAVIRUS ENDS CRICKET INDEFINITELY
The Proteas were scheduled to tour India for a three-ODI series in March, but that was duly canceled as the pandemic gripped the world. There was hope of a tour of the West Indies, which was slated to start in July, would go ahead, but that too was scraped as the virus showed itself to be deadly and defiant.
England eventually agreed to tour South Africa in November, ending months of cricketless chaos in South Africa. That wouldn’t end well.
CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA MAKES SA THE LAUGHING STOCK OF WORLD CRICKET
A boardroom mess was carried into 2020, but many had hoped it would be resolved amicably. Instead, what followed was a degree of dysfunction that has never been seen before in South African cricket.
In December 2019 CSA had commissioned an independent audit into a myriad aspects of their corporate governance. Part of this madness included suspending then CEO Thabang Moroe for six months – the period they had set aside for the investigation to take place. Six months later, with the investigation still not completed, Moroe returned to work based on legal advice, only to find himself locked out of CSA’s head office. A brutal legal battle follows.
August and September prove to be two of the worst months in South Africa cricket’s history. In this period Chris Nenzani and Jacques Faul resign and President and acting CEO respectively, Moroe is officially fired, which prompts 30 Proteas men’s and womens players to openly criticise CSA in a statement.
This period got worse with a disastrous attempt by Sascoc to intervene in CSA’s affairs, which prompted Momentum to announce they were pulling the plug on their sponsorship, leaving an already cash-strapped body in a dire state. Government intervention followed and CSA responded by denying that they were in need of such intervention.
Ultimately, despite resistance from the CSA Board, the full Fundudzi report is released to a Parliamentary sports portfolio committee and later a summarised version to the public. It revealed deep dysfunction, including irregular expenditure and the fact that, despite Moroe being woefully under-qualified for the job of CEO, he bypassed standard appointment practice to take the most important job in South African cricket administration.
In October, CSA’s entire board resigned following immense pressure from government, media and the public to do so. Minister of Sport Nathi Mthethwa appointed an Interim Board, headed by Haroon Lorgat, which CSA’s Members Council refuses to recognise. They later backtrack under more government pressure.
The full Fundudzi report is released to the public in late November, and implicates a string of high-profile former and current CSA executives. CSA company secretary Welsh Gwaza is suspended for various counts of misconduct cited in the Fundudzi report, while acting CEO Kugandrie Govender was suspended on various counts of misconduct, including the role she played in the revocation of media accreditation of certain journalists in December 2019, various breaches of the provisions of the Companies Act as a prescribed officer of CSA and the role which she played in the dismissal of Clive Eksteen, which CSA has now acknowledged (in terms of a settlement agreement with Eksteen) was an unfair dismissal.
AN ENGLAND TOUR FROM HELL
The news that England had agreed to tour South Africa for a three-T20I, three-ODI series despite the country being ravaged by coronavirus was celebrated. It soon became a nightmare when multiple breaches of the bio-secure environment were reported.
They got through the T20I series, which England won comfortably (3-0), but the ODI series was abandoned without a ball being bowled, following concerns around positive cases within the bubble. England, who it was later revealed had breached COVID-19 protocol on numerous occasions, decided to call an end to the series and fly home, casting doubt on all subsequent series.
SRI LANKA BRAVE THE STORM
Thankfully Sri Lanka agreed to honour their tour. They probably regret that decision now, given their year ending with a heavy defeat in the first Test and an every-expanding injury list.