Cricket South Africa’s deep dysfunction will be felt for years to come, writes SA Cricket magazine editor RYAN VREDE.
It seems like every day for the last year cricket’s governing body is having to extinguish fires. Last week we ran a timeline of the chaos, highlighting the major issues that have plagued the organisation.
We were forced to omit plenty of detail for the sake of brevity. You would have still been reading that piece today, such is the stockpile of incidence caused primarily by the depth of ineptitude in leadership. And the rot has spread to the franchises, most of whom are all dealing with the consequences of chronic and major failures of leadership.
Just last week one of cricket’s more competent leaders, Nic Kock, ended his 16-month tenure as president of the Western Province Cricket Association, citing ‘reckless trading’ as his main concern. A clutch of independent directors went with him, leaving a once mighty association in a shambles. There are concerning issues like this across the country.
On Saturday morning it got farcical. A day before, CSA strongly rejected former Proteas wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile’s suggestion that there were irregularities in the process that led to him and a string of other players receiving lengthy or lifetime bans for their role in match-fixing in the 2015 Ram Slam competition.
Early on Saturday morning, Alviro Petersen, one of those implicated in the match-fixing scandal, shot off a tweet giving cricket’s governing body an ultimatum to respond by 10am or risk him exposing ‘new evidence’ proving the investigation featured ‘bias’. At 9am he tweeted: ‘Mzanzi I can confirm that the HEAVY, HEAVYWEIGHTS from various sections of society including from @OffcialCSA have been in touch with me from 09h00 today. They complied! Thank you all. We will see action hopefully, or I come out again.’
Set aside the absurdity of a former player having information that elicited such an immediate response despite CSA’s claims to a wide-ranging and supposedly comprehensive investigation, we can now also brace for yet another period of chaos related to whatever revelations Petersen will share. That is unless this is swept under the carpet, which seems unlikely given the former Proteas opener’s threat to expose this information in the absence of ‘action’.
So strap in, this is about to get worse.
And while CSA and their affiliated franchises stumble from one crisis to the next, cricket goes nowhere. These issues steal time from the work the organisation should be doing, like ensuring there’s a comprehensive strategy to prioritise grassroots cricket as a means of creating equal opportunities for young black cricketers, or securing investment that is critical to the optimal functioning of not only CSA and their affiliates, but cricket in SA in its entirety, or preparing our elite teams for a return to the game in the coming months, among a myriad of other pressing issues.
The chaos exists in the present but its effects will be felt in the future.
Yet, it appears that the slide is beyond arrest. That would require strong leadership, which has been disconcertingly absent. Acting CSA chief executive Dr Jacques Faul will vacate the office in a month and there is no word yet of who will replace him. It is a mess and every day it rolls on, cricket and cricketers suffer.
This is the true tragedy of this circus. Serious damage has already been done to the future of the game at multiple levels. It is not yet an irredeemable situation, but will soon be if decisive action isn’t taken to cease this madness.