How much time is enough time?

By now even the most ‘removed’ readers of this column will have an understanding of the dynamics of Cricket South Africa’s current governance crisis, so I won’t waste too much time recapping. 

The CSA Members Council agreed to ratify the redrafted MOI to incorporate a majority independent board and an independent chairperson a week before last Saturday’s SGM – which was called specifically for that purpose. They voted against it. In a secret ballot. The ‘bad faith’ with which they have acted for years reached new levels of badness. 

By the time they released a statement to justify the change of mind, two days later, the best they could come up with was that the new MOI had been handed to them at just 24 hours notice leaving them with insufficient time to absorb it and run it past their affiliated clubs and provincial board members.

Today, CSA Interim Board chairman, Stavros Nicolaou, spent almost an hour in an online press conference painstakingly walking the room through every step of the process. He illustrated, literally, the timeline of the redraft explaining that the MC had been involved in the process for over two months. 

Queries and objections had been heard and dealt with, changes had been made. It was a long and arduous process, as was following it for those of us unaware and uninvolved at the time, but the detail was important. Far from having 24 hours to approve the new MOI, said Nicolaou, the MC had over two months. The slide-show appeared to illustrate that quite clearly. 

A couple of days ago I spoke to a board member at one of the provinces which abstained from voting during the SGM last Saturday. I asked why he and his fellow board members had mandated their president to keep their vote in his pocket during one of the most important meetings in CSA’s history.

“There was a lot of concern that non-cricket people would be running cricket, that ‘independent’ meant people who didn’t know the game and had no experience of it,” the board member said. 

Nicolaou looked and sounded exasperated: “It has been explained on numerous occasions to the MC, I cannot understand why it keeps coming up. Independent directors can be former administrators, but they cannot be associated with a province. They cannot mark their own homework.” 

Asked whether he was confident that all of the 14 provincial presidents which comprise the MC had been faithful in relaying the relevant details of the interaction with the Interim Board to their provincial board members and affiliates, Nicolaou replied: “Good question. I can only assume not…”

Nicolaou was in no doubt about what was going on:

“Delay, prevaricate, obfuscate…and so it goes on. It’s been going on for nine years. If a board is trying to be constructive there is only one thing that can be done. That is for the MC to resolve to find 75%. We will work with them with the greatest of pleasure to get an MOI over the line but we cannot have another undertaking that it is over the line only to go to another SGM and it fails.”

“This time we would require a resolution that 75% are behind (the changes) and that would have to be signed off in 48 hours, for example. If we can follow this simple process then we will let all the water that has gone under the bridge go by.”

“We can save cricket today if we do that. That’s why we called this press conference because we need to save cricket. The crisis can be averted and we can get to an AGM with a new board of majority independent directors before you know it,” Nicolaou said. 

It must be stressed that the MC is seriously divided. Five presidents voted in favour of the governance changes and there are signs that others will follow, including the ones which may, or may not have adequately briefed their own boards on contents of the discussions with the CSA Interim Board. 

Chief amongst the ‘good guys’ is Central Gauteng Lions president, Anne Vilas. She was the only voice arguing for an open, transparent vote at the SGM on Saturday. The only woman on the MC has been a shining light for honesty and transparency and a beacon of hope. All credit to the Lions for the mandate they gave her. 

“When I was elected president of the Central Gauteng Lions, I automatically assumed a seat on the Members Council which, I was told, was the ultimate authority in running cricket,” Vilas said. “It struck me as strange because the MC is only scheduled to have two meetings per year. How can they administer cricket like that? The board needs to run cricket.”

Indeed. It is the ultimate embodiment, and last vestiges, of the amateur era. Hopefully, when Anne has served her term as Gauteng president, and done the prescribed ‘cooling off’ period, she will preside over a CSA board. We desperately need people like her.  

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