The year of the administrator in cricket

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Dawid Malan of England smashes a six as wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock of South Africa looks on during the third T20 International between the two countries in Cape Town this month. Picture: Shaun Botterill / Getty Images
Dawid Malan of England smashes a six as wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock of South Africa looks on during the third T20 International between the two countries in Cape Town this month. Picture: Shaun Botterill / Getty Images

SPORT


With so little cricket being played due to Covid-19, cricket’s boardroom scandals replaced the on-field action in the news – and there were plenty of them.

THE ACADEMY AWARD GOES TO...

At the beginning of the year, Cricket SA (CSA) was already an organisation in trouble.

CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended for alleged misconduct. Former International Cricket Council CEO Dave Richardson turned down the acting role, leaving Jacques Faul to take on the ambulance job for a second time before quitting even though his secondment from the Titans was not over. CSA then looked inward and got Kugandrie Govender to replace Faul not long before Moroe was found guilty and dismissed.

Govender has just been suspended pending a disciplinary hearing next month and, frankly, nobody cares who the next acting CEO is.

The highest office in the organisation has been treated like a floating trophy all year, yet the members’ council has desperately tried to give the impression that CSA can fix its own problems.

THE TAKEOVER, PART 1

The first attempt to “help” CSA back on to the straight and narrow laughably fell to the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc). Somehow, we were supposed to believe that an organisation that had an acting CEO like CSA, an acting president like CSA andunresolved governance issues of its own, like CSA, would carry the day by demanding to see the forensic audit report into CSA by Fundudzi Forensic Services without having to sign the non-disclosure agreement everybody else had to.

The highest office in the organisation has been treated like a floating trophy all year, yet the members’ council has desperately tried to give the impression that CSA can fix its own problems

Then came the clincher: Sascoc wanted CSA to pay for its investigation into CSA’s affairs. An example of how crazy that whole episode was is the fact that Aleck Skhosana, the acting Sascoc president who led the attempt to look into cricket’s affairs, now has nothing to do with the organisation.

He failed in his efforts to be elected president or vice-president and has gone back to Athletics SA.

THE TAKEOVER, PART 2

After Sascoc comically ran itself out, Inzamam ul-Haq-style, Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa decided to bring in the heavy artillery for the next wicket – himself.

With CSA getting bolder and bolder each time it managed to thwart external efforts to save a sinking ship, it was time for interference, ahem, intervention, from higher up.

So Mthethwa, or government, got involved, a situation that has ended up with the interim board headed by retired Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob.

Kugandrie Govender
Kugandrie Govender replaced Jacques Faul as CEO of CSA before she was also suspended. Picture: Lee Warren / Gallo Images

While there has been plenty of upheaval – CSA tried not to recognise the interim board’s authority and the board itself has shed a couple of its members, this after one was deemed to have a possible conflict of interest and the other obstructive – there has been progress.

The shadowy figures within the organisation are being brought to book and there are regular updates about the progress. Better yet, said updates are laced with none of the usual BS the media had become accustomed to being fed by cricket.

BLACK LIVES MATTER, BUT ONLY IF SYMMO AND BOETA SAY SO

Poor Lungi Ngidi was only honestly answering a question when he pledged his support to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. And, as a throwaway remark, he said he was sure the Proteas players would talk about how to mark it. It’s a comment that didn’t sit well with white former Proteas players, the most prominent of them Pat Symcox and Boeta Dippenaar.

The two suggested they would respect Ngidi more if he aligned himself with the idea that farm murders should be stopped.

The upshot was years of resentment harboured by black players for their treatment by white counterparts in cricket teams came to the surface, exposing the game’s racial disharmony.

Read: Yacoob and Richards both claim the Cricket SA chair

There was a temptation to dismiss the testimonies of former players such as Thami Tsolekile and Lonwabo Tsotsobe, to name but two, as an attempt to whitewash their reputation – what with their involvement in match-fixing a few years ago. But the whole thing hit home when the bubbliest black player over the years, the pioneering Makhaya Ntini, shared how lonely he felt in the team when he was at the peak of his career. As a result, the game now has a transformation ombud.

But how that will help redress the imbalance, or indeed right the wrongs of the past, remains a mystery.

OH, AND SOME CRICKET

Owing to the shoddy results from the white ball series against England that bookended a strange year, perhaps the uplifting news was Quinton de Kock contributing handsomely (503 runs in 16 innings at a strike rate of 140, four 50s) to the Mumbai Indians winning the Indian Premier League. Kagiso Rabada topped the bowling figures by taking the most wickets in the competition (30 at 18.28 and an economy rate of 8.34).

AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis scored heavily (454 and 449 runs, respectively). With Rookie Anrich Nortje bowling fast and furiously, he recorded the fastest ball (156km/h) in the history of the tournament.

Chris Morris had his moments, while it wasn’t such a happy tournament for Ngidi, David Miller and Imran Tahir, who got very few playing opportunities.

There was also an innovation called 3T Cricket, where three teams played the same game at the same time, but that’s a story for another day.


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