• Failure to launch: A T20 story

    Cricket is big business, so why do the administrators get things so wrong so often, wonders LUKE ALFRED?

    Imagine that a national company launches a new product line. They champion this line with a launch, an auction and enough hot air to put former sports minister Fikile Mbalula to shame.

    In order to maximise the product’s potential, they go not to their usual logistics and marketing partners but, instead, to a different company, arguing that these new boys will better serve their needs.

    Then they flick-flack again, finally giving a contract worth tens of millions of rands to an organisation that has no clients, no track record, and whose main man just happens to be on more than passing terms with the national company’s main man.

    All the while, they have no television deal.

    When observers point out that they can’t really launch the new product without television, they buy time, arguing that it’s in the bag.

    ‘Don’t panic,’ they say. ‘We’re just crossing i’s and dotting t’s. No – need – to – worry.’

    As they bring in new offshore partners to help shoulder the financial burden of the new product they, once again, reassure the market.

    ‘The launch will be on time.

    ‘Everything is in place.

    ‘There’s no need for concern.’

    Then, shortly before the scheduled launch, the organisation – whose board have seemingly sleepwalked through all of this – decides that a television deal isn’t going to materialise. In a sudden frenzy of action, they fire main man.

    A couple of weeks later, having become the laughing stock of the country, they postpone the new product launch. They wring their hands, stare at the floor and send out enough trivial press releases to jam the office spam folder.

    Six months later, they try to re-launch the new product by re-branding it, never having explained why they postponed it in the first place. Their shareholders are up in arms at the annual general meeting. Their share price plummets. And the organisation’s executive wonders why they have a credibility problem.

    ‘For the life of us,’ they say to each other at one of their five-star getaways in the bush (with wives in tow), ‘we can’t think why.’

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    If all of this bears more than passing resemblance to the Great T20 Global Fiasco of the last year, then it is meant to. If Cricket South Africa were a listed company, all of their upper managers (and their entire board) would by now have been fired. A forensic investigation by a credible outsider would have been launched and there would be a wholesale attempt to rescue the organisation’s image by making public their misdeeds and maladministration.

    Instead, they’ve taken another course of action, understandable perhaps, but no less convincing for that. They’ve pretended the problem doesn’t exist. Only once, in a press release on 21 December last year – when most of South Africa was on the beach – did they offer a glimpse into why the T20 Global League of 2017 failed. They said that an external governance and procurement report identified ‘persistent governance failures’.

    Nowhere did they say what these failures were, or how they came about.

    It has subsequently emerged, however, that Thabang Moroe (who, on Monday night, was named CSA’s chief executive officer for the next three years) sat on a crucial subcommittee relating to last year’s stalled competition. The only problem is, he didn’t attend a single meeting.

    No wonder the board wasn’t appraised: he wasn’t at the meetings that would have allowed him to appraise them.

    For this, he’s been awarded local cricket’s plum job.

    ‘Moroe has done an excellent job in the last year in taking over this position in circumstances that were less than ideal,’ said CSA president Chris Nenzani in announcing Monday night’s appointment.

    From a spinning point of view, that has to be the ball of the century.

    Such professional and corporate governance failures are at the root of last year’s fiasco. It’s a fiasco that wasted approximately R220-million, led to the parting of ways with former chief executive Haroon Lorgat (along with communications manager Altaaf Kazi) and generally made CSA the laughing stock of the world game.

    What do they care, though? After all, there have been no consequences to their ‘mis-governance’. And it now looks suspiciously as though there never will be.

    Photo: BackpagePix

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