Side Entry: New low is cricket’s big chance at reinvention

With each revelation of some kind of screw-up or another at Cricket SA (CSA) this week, which culminated with Standard Bank not renewing its sponsorship of the Proteas, it became clearer that chief executive Thabang Moroe’s position was untenable.

Already an organisation with a history of corporate governance issues (think the bonuses scandal), the question is how CSA will deal with the spectacular collapse of its leadership; a fall from grace that all but crippled an entity that once claimed to be the first R1 billion business in South African sport.

If CSA’s ham-fisted search for a director of cricket has taught us anything, it is that few organisations like to keep things in-house as much as CSA does.

It’s almost as if, when there’s an appointment to be made, the two questions asked are: Is the candidate already part of the cricket structures, or what level of cricket has said candidate played? These are asked instead of checking how competent the candidate is.

Too often, these decisions are made on gut feelings instead of track records and metrics.

An example is the lavish manner in which the director of cricket position was offered to former Proteas captain Graeme Smith.

Smith was first offered the gig about three months ago, turned it down a fortnight ago and has reportedly been “begged” to reconsider.

Quite what his qualifications are to run an elite performance programme for the whole of South African cricket is a mystery.

I should probably hasten to admit that a) this isn’t my saying Smith wouldn’t do well in the post, and b) at some level, I’m being unfair to him by singling him out as an example.

Smith’s lead by the lantern jaw approach had a lot to do with any successful Proteas team you can think of over the past decade from a playing perspective, as well as having laid the team culture foundation that made it all possible.

But, with respect, herding a cricket team in the right direction and turning Protea Fire into a powerful mantra isn’t quite the same as knowing how to thrive in the corporate space of a director of elite performance.

If you don’t buy that, think back to how former Springbok captain John Smit – a man we all thought had a career as a diplomat after rugby – came unstuck as chief executive of the Sharks.

To that end, the powers that be who remain at CSA have to consider going outside their usual box in trying to fill the important chief executive and director of cricket posts – if the latter is still a consideration, given how much trouble it has given the organisation.

Should it still want to persist with a director of cricket, my suggestion would be to consider someone like Rowing SA’s Roger Barrow, who changed rowing from being a quaint, privileged pursuit into a medals banker for the country on the international stage and the Olympics.

Apart from building a bakery from the crumbs he would have had for sponsorship at the beginning, Barrow’s calling card is his ruthlessness about elite performance, something the buddy-buddy systems at the so-called big three sports could do with.

Regarding the chief executive role, someone like Tennis SA’s Richard Glover – who has quietly guided a former sporting giant that had fallen on tough times back into the black – could be considered.

In fewer than three years in charge, Glover – who has worked at CSA in a marketing capacity – has attracted almost 10 sponsors by having a clear strategy for the sport, a plan for how those funds will be used and good corporate governance.

Barrow and Glover are just two examples of what CSA could consider if it thinks laterally about what to do in its leadership crisis, but this new low is as good an opportunity as any for it to reinvent itself.

  • Follow me on Twitter @simxabanisa

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