Cricket South Africa are failing to take advantage of the good sporting mojo as they head towards even more uncertainty.
We should not become dependent on the Springboks bailing out South Africa when the country’s sporting and political climates need it most. They did it 1995 and again in 2019. There was even a win in 2007 for ‘gees’. Sure, they were helped by Bafana Bafana in 1996 but the national soccer team has fallen by the wayside as continental challengers.
The cricket team have a rich history of letting down their loyal fans, who nevertheless continue to offer unconditional support. It’s unnecessary to go through the near-misses and the heartaches.
But at this point, there is a grave danger that the Proteas could lose the public’s attention. It’s an unthinkable scenario, but it’s closer to reality that many would care to admit.
For many, the MSL 2.0 is a complete non-event. Most are blissfully unaware of its existence and it shows the lack of appetite for a watered-down T20 hit-and-giggle competition. It also sends out warning signals to the administrators in the corporate boxes; without fan attendance and interest, the financial burden will hit like a swift punch to the solar plexus.
The absolute horror-show in India that preceded this tournament didn’t help matters.
It is impossible to say how much money Cricket South Africa owe their bankers, or how much more they may owe after the MSL 2.0. I’d be rather pleased to see some facts and figures that disprove my notion that this ‘spectacle’ is anything other than an unmitigated financial disaster.
CSA’s chief executive officer Thabang Moroe appears to be the sole key holder to the coffers. The suspension of Corrie van Zyl, Clive Eksteen and Naasei Appiah helped this come about, as did the restructuring of the manner in which CSA conducts business. Under the new system, Moroe is allowed to make key decisions without board approval. His commercial strategy, for starters, is questionable [read that story HERE].
‘Franchise cricket has been a huge burden to CSA’s coffers. We are pinning most of our work and commercial strategy on the Mzansi Super League to be the programme that is actually going to fund domestic cricket,’ said Moroe. To that I say good luck.
For example, who is paying Moeen Ali for his services? And how much? Or for Gary Kirsten? Then we have examples of marquee players not available for the duration of the competition and players getting out of their MSL commitments to play in other competitions abroad. Why?
The on-field ‘action’ aside, the boardroom is where the real concerns lie for those trying to keep a tab on the future of the local game. Watering down the franchise system and suspending three key figures are two problems but the greatest one now appears to be the appointment of the fancy new position of Director of Cricket.
In my circles, I suggested that Graeme Smith was never going to be given the role and that CSA interviewed him merely to save face. They can now say that they tried to reach an agreement with him but there were too many stumbling blocks. They can swiftly move ahead without a man who they knew would ruffle their well-groomed feathers.
Smith was never going to be given the license he wanted. He is his own man and captained the Proteas the same way. He was never going to be a ‘yes man’ or sit in meetings and keep quiet while the game’s rotten stench continues to fill the corridors.
The gritty former left-handed batsman no doubt had massive changes both on and off the field in mind. Certainly getting Mark Boucher into the system as a matter of urgency was priority No 1. While the status quo remains, Smith is lost to the system. How much longer will Boucher stick around for before a top international job offer lands in his inbox?
Crippling debt, a franchise system on life support, ongoing issues with SACA and no leadership for the national team.
These are the immediate threats we know about. What we don’t know is the clear and obvious way forward. There appears only one person, Mr Moroe, has the answers.
Perhaps the solution lies in sell-out crowds when England tour next month? Or some MSL revelation that we can’t quite see right now in the midst of the chaos.
If you want to be optimistic that the turnaround will be as swift and smooth as Rassie Erasmus turning the Boks from no-hopers to world champions in two years, then I won’t hold you back. But you have been warned.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images