• Dysfunctional Sascoc is not the answer

    South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee taking over key functions of Cricket South Africa will only worsen cricket’s situation, writes Ryan Vrede.

    I’m not a religious man, but I’m interested in the fundamental conventions of Christianity. The drama that’s unfolding at CSA reminds me of a biblical proverb that says: ‘Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another’.

    For historical context, in Old Testament times, one iron blade was used to sharpen another blade until both became more effective tools.

    Whatever the antithesis of that is, is represented by Sascoc, SA’s deeply dysfunctional umbrella sporting body, stepping in to take over the running of cricket.

    In the context of the biblical reference, this would be akin to trying to sharpen a rust-riddled iron blade with gravel.

    It is ironic that CSA’s postponement of their AGM, where they were due to elect new leadership, was the final straw for Sascoc, who themselves are months overdue on their AGM because of boardroom infighting.

    If I were to comprehensively list the scandals that have plagued Sascoc in recent times, you’d finish reading this article a week from now.

    The last five years in particular, has seen an erosion of competent leadership, debilitating factionalism and financial mismanagement that has bankrupted the organisation, and as a result has left it’s affiliates, particularly those from less popular codes, in a dire situation.

    Government has completely lost faith in Sascoc’s ability to effectively run sport in the country, evidenced in part by Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa in April 2020 declaring: ‘We wish to reiterate that as government we remain unconvinced that Sascoc has demonstrated the necessary will to deal decisively with their internal problems, particularly those relating to governance, as spelt out in the Ministerial Inquiry Report,’ he said.

    ‘The appeal to the IOC and IPC was therefore aimed at enlisting the help of the sports movement to address sports problems to avoid the perception that the government was being heavy-handed through alternative ways of bringing back stability to Sascoc, in the interests of the struggling athletes.’

    They have been given ample opportunities to self-correct, but it is clear they have neither the capacity or will to do so. It is therefore laughable that they would move to take over control of CSA, and boldly proclaim that, through the establishment of an independent task team, they will get to the root of the problems at cricket’s troubled governing body.

    An independent task team is certainly needed, but it has to be comprised of members who have experience in hyper-functional, efficient and profitable organisations. I’d populate that task team with hand-picked individuals from the private sector and instruct them to measure CSA against the stringent standards they set themselves, as well as make recommendations, particularly around CSA’s executive leadership, that mirrors the standards set in healthy private sector businesses.

    Sadly, that is not going to happen. Sascoc are going to present themselves as the great saviours of South African cricket. That’s deeply disturbing, since they can’t even save themselves.


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    Ryan Vrede