One of the difficulties many parents of young children experience is the ‘false threat.’ “If you don’t tidy your room now you will not be allowed to go to the park at the weekend.” More often than not, the children ended up in the park, even if they’d just stuffed their used clothes into the cupboard. Or even if not.
The grown-up version has been happening at Cricket South Africa for months. The stubborn, obstreperous provincial presidents on the Members Council who have steadfastly refused to endorse the tidying up process at the organisation clearly believe that the Minister of Sport will allow them to go to the park.
Except the adult version of that, in this case, is the removal of national colours from the Proteas and expulsion from the ICC and the international game. The recalcitrant presidents (eight out of 14) either cannot, or refuse, to see that this is not about them. It affects the current generation of professional players and quite possibly the next one. It will also adversely affect thousands of people associated with or reliant on the professional game.
Regular readers of this column will know that today was deadline-day for the MC to agree to the fundamental changes in CSA’s constitution which the Interim Board was mandated by the Minister to make. They are:
A majority of independent directors on the restructured board of CSA.
The separation of roles between the Members’ Council president and the board chairperson.
The president to chair the Members’ Council and an independent director to chair the board.
The board nominations committee should comprise a majority of independent directors to appoint future independent directors.
The powers and duties of the Members’ Council and the board must be clarified to avoid having ‘two centres of power’.
Well, instead of reaching a conclusion, the MC acting president, Rihan Richards, asked Minister Nathi Mthethwa for a 48 hour extension citing the religious significance of the Easter weekend to the Jewish and Christian members of the cricket community. So now we’ll know on Thursday. Maybe.
An exasperated Mthethwa is known to have asked the MC in their last two meetings whether they had any idea how ‘out of touch’ they were with the cricket community, especially the players. A strongly worded statement from the SA Cricketers Association implored the MC to do the right thing over a month ago.
Spokesperson for the Interim Board, Judith February, said this today: “This is a last chance for cricket to get its governance house in order. If this MOI is not amended to accommodate a majority independent board then the opportunity to set cricket on a path of innovative, modern leadership will be lost.
“We will also lose the opportunity to once again influence the global game. Daring the minister to intervene is shortsighted in the extreme. It also ignores the views of cricket’s major stakeholder, the players themselves.”
In previous columns I have attempted to explain the self-interest and preservation motivations for the MC to retain the status quo. There is simply power and influence for its own sake, and ego, and also material benefit like the generous annual retainer enjoyed by the MC presidents who also sit on the Board.
There might be another explanation, even more powerful. The administrative and financial misdeeds unveiled by the Fundudzi Forensic Report have yet to be acted upon. When the Interim Board was finally able to publish it in full, no secret was made of the fact that criminal proceedings would be a likely consequence. Perhaps some members of the MC feel they would be more likely to remain in control of their own destiny if they stayed as the highest decision-making body in the organisation. Independent directors can be a nuisance. They don’t ‘understand’ cricket and its ways.
Finally, changing topic completely to…cricket. The very welcome and thrilling entertainment provided by the Proteas and Pakistan in the first two ODIs should be credited, first and foremost, to the CSA Operations Team which has had to operate and function almost exclusively outside the influence of both the Interim Board and certainly the MC. One day the great men and women who have kept the game functioning during the last two years of dysfunction will be recognised and thanked. But if they are not, they won’t complain. That is why they are so good at what they do.
Assuming that 99% of readers have seen Quinton de Kock’s run out of Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman in the closing stages of the riveting second ODI, and are aware of the (social-media) controversy, I won’t attempt to explain it. It’s worth googling the footage if you’re interested in what may, or may not constitute ‘deception’.
Fakhar blamed himself afterwards and exonerated de Kock, which is worth remembering. My favourite quote on the incident, however, came from Pakistan legend Javed Miandad:
“He shouldn't have taken his eyes off the ball. A batsman must love his wicket and his runs like a man loves a woman. When you do that, you will never get run out like this."
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