The Cricket SA (CSA) board will convene an emergency meeting on July 20 to discuss the Proteas’ worst World Cup campaign in the country’s 27-year history at the tournament, chief executive Thabang Moroe said yesterday.
Following their nine-wicket win (only their second from eight matches) over Sri Lanka on Friday, the Proteas went from ninth to eighth position on the 10-team table. Their last game, which they will play on Saturday, will be another dead rubber against defending champions Australia, who happen to be sitting on top of the log.
This is comfortably South Africa’s worst performance in the global showpiece since we made our international return to cricket in the early 1990s, hence the emergency meeting.
“It’s not a scheduled board meeting, it’s a board meeting to specifically discuss our performance at the World Cup and to say what is the way forward,” Moroe said.
“This is not a meeting to discuss finance, risks and pipelines. We have a specific agenda item, which is the World Cup and the way forward after it. It’s an emergency board meeting to make key decisions around cricket.”
Given that the tournament, which has become interminably long for South Africans thanks to the results, is nominally still ongoing, Moroe was reluctant to put the cart before the horse by delving into the whodunit details before the meeting took place.
But two of the topics that will definitely come up for discussion are whether coach Ottis Gibson’s position is tenable or if a director of cricket is needed.
After two years in the job, the focus on Gibson’s tenure continuing has been based on the understanding that he was hired to win the World Cup and, looking at the Proteas’ shambles of a campaign, the temptation is to assume that he’s out of work.
“That answer lies in the board meeting we’re going to have on the 20th,” said Moroe.
“Yes, before we won against Sri Lanka, the entire board was hurt and disappointed in terms of the results we’ve achieved.
“Are they feeling different now that we’ve won against Sri Lanka? I don’t know. Will they feel different if we beat Australia on the sixth? I still don’t know.”
Fair enough, but will he still be gainfully employed by the Proteas next season?
“What I can tell you is that, from a management point of view, we spoke about [Gibson’s] position and the board remained solid in its decision, saying we hired him to take us to the final of this tournament and therefore would only evaluate him after the tournament. The board hasn’t evaluated him yet – as per the promise to the coach to only evaluate him after the World Cup.”
The director of cricket position seems to have become more pressing. Given how things have gone in England, the need to keep an eye on the big picture, and clarify the lines of responsibility and accountability when the Titanic meets an iceberg – as has been the case in the Proteas’ World Cup campaign.
“If you remember, the position of director of cricket was brought into the picture after the 2015 World Cup,” said Moroe.
“So, yes, the CSA has been thinking about it. The board must now give management either a scope of the type of individual they want or specifically give them names to interview.
“It goes back to the whole accountability thing: Who must have the decision-making powers, and at what level so that it’s clear and simple to know who should be held accountable and for what.”
While he pronounced himself “disappointed and gutted like the rest of South Africa”, Moroe, who was with the Proteas until after their fourth – and rained off – game against the West Indies, said he felt sympathy for the team.
“The fact that I’ve been there talking to the team, the captain and the coach, I know that the guys have tried everything they could try and it’s just that things haven’t clicked. It’s hard for people to understand. It’s almost as if the team is making excuses and doesn’t want to take responsibility – that’s not the case.”