The optics are tricky as Cricket SA decides to appoint Graeme Smith

 Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith

The decision by Cricket SA (CSA) to hire former Proteas captain Graeme Smith as its director of cricket runs the risk of being read to mean it considers the disciplinary hearing of suspended chief executive Thabang Moroe to be a foregone conclusion.

Having occupied the role in an acting capacity for five months, Smith was installed full time in the post on Friday for the next two years.

But, while CSA is happy it has its man – if acting chief executive officer (CEO) Jacques Faul’s utterances at the press conference are anything to go by – it’s a call that has the potential to cause problems.

We can’t make any formal comments on the issue of the suspended CEO because that still has to be dealt with
CSA CEO Jacques Faul

CSA has secured Smith’s services after the umpteenth time of asking, having watched him turn the job down and tentatively take it on only in an acting role following a courtship that began as far back as August.

The speculation around Smith’s reluctance to commit was that he had a problem with CSA’s leadership, particularly with Moroe.

Even his decision to only take the job on an interim basis seemed partly informed by a desire to see how Moroe’s hearing on charges of misconduct would pan out.

But, with five of the six months CSA had given itself to conclude Moroe’s fate having elapsed, and the deadline likely to be extended for Covid-19 coronavirus-related disruptions, appointing Smith as director of cricket full time betrays a certain confidence that it is unlikely Moroe will return to his position.

“We can’t make any formal comments on the issue of the suspended CEO because that still has to be dealt with,” said Faul.

“So there is no way we could make an announcement on that because that could be seen as constructive dismissal.

“The thing to remember is that he has not been found guilty of anything, and he could be found not guilty and come back.”

Faul was loath to answer more questions about Moroe’s situation owing to his deputising for him as well as not being involved in his hearing process: “The president [Chris Nenzani] is probably the person in the best position to answer.

“I’m not trying to avoid answering questions on him, but I’m unfortunately not involved in any of the issues concerning Thabang. I hate not to answer, but, in this case, I’m not involved at all.”

If I told you I had 100% certainty, I’d be lying because there have been so many doubts on all fronts
Graeme Smith

For all the water that has to go under the bridge, and the faint whiff of putting the cart before the horse on CSA’s part, it’s tough to see how Moroe would emerge from his disciplinary hearing unscathed enough to regain his position.

Having overseen a fraught period in which CSA has bled money, fallen out with its players, sponsors and waged a brief war with the media that ended with the organisation going into spectacular meltdown late last year, it would be a miracle for Moroe not to be found responsible regarding any of those accusations.

Even if he were to be cleared on all charges, one has to ask if he and the board that basically put his name forward as the scapegoat for practically all that has gone wrong at CSA could ever trust one another again.

For his part, Smith explained his decision to commit for the next two years: “If I told you I had 100% certainty, I’d be lying because there have been so many doubts on all fronts that it’s impossible to have that feeling.

“But over the last period operationally, I’ve got to know the staff and I’ve seen a lot of hardworking people who care deeply about the game. And, over a few months, I’ve become invested in the position and started to care about my responsibility to the game and sorting it out.”

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