Proteas

Deepening CSA crisis on tour’s eve: ICC stays mum

Graeme Smith (Getty Images)
Graeme Smith (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The meltdown at Cricket South Africa is threatening to overlap on - and possibly even threaten in some respects - England’s major tour here, beginning in only 12 days’ time with the visitors’ two-day warm-up match against a CSA Invitation XI at Benoni (December 17 and 18).

They are due to play four Tests against the Proteas, the first beginning at SuperSport Park on Boxing Day, as well as three one-day internationals and three of the Twenty20 variety on a safari - complete with many thousands of travelling supporters - that is supposed to breathe some fresh life into CSA’s much-publicised, embattled coffers.

But the immediate lead-up to the bilateral tussles is being increasingly scarred domestically by the chaos and, by extension, paralysis in the corridors of power at CSA.

Just the latest event distracting from the preparatory process for the tour was Wednesday night’s second resignation in quick succession of an independent director, the finance committee chair and chartered accountant Iqbal Khan.

Khan confirmed to Sport24 that he had quit and, in his official resignation letter to CSA president Chris Nenzani, provided a list of “issues of concern to me, with respect to CEO (Thabang Moroe) actions or inactions”.

These include an allegation of “widespread credit card abuse in the office”; Khan’s objection to the revoking of media accreditation to a group of prominent cricket scribes; resignations in the CSA office due to a “toxic environment”; and CSA’s treatment of players’ body the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA).

SACA is in dispute - including through legal channels - with the umbrella body on various fronts, and has called a meeting on Friday to discuss the possibility of taking industrial or protest action against CSA over commercial rights issues.

Its chief Tony Irish, has said: “SACA has always considered strike, and other similar forms of industrial action, to be a very last resort and in SACA’s 17 years of dealing with CSA to date not one day of cricket has ever been lost to industrial action.

“However, things have now reached a stage where we must ask what SACA, and the players, are expected to do when the leadership of CSA, both operationally and on its Board, continues to ignore our legitimate concerns and refuses to acknowledge the players as key stakeholders in the game.”

Fears have already been expressed in the English media that any such action could jeopardise the tour.

“Any decision to strike might throw the Test series, which is set to begin on Boxing Day, in doubt,” wrote cricket website www.wisden.com.

Despite the mounting uncertainty, world governing body the International Cricket Council (ICC) is retaining a neutral stance on the issue, at least at this point.

Responding to inquiries on Thursday, ICC spokesperson Mary Godbeer simply said: “Member issues are not for us to comment.”

Sport24 has also sent questions to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), related to the health or otherwise of the tour and present events within CSA, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

In terms of the Proteas’ own preparations for the Test series, they are badly hamstrung by the lack of personnel or clarity in key positions.

There is no selection chief or panel, the important new director of cricket post has not yet been filled, and all that is known is that rookie acting head coach Enoch Nkwe, whose baptism was a 3-0 series thumping in India in October, will continue to steer that ship for the English Tests.

Reports continue to vary confusingly over whether former playing heavyweight and long-time national captain Graeme Smith will accept the director's position.

Sport24 understands from reliable sources in Johannesburg that CSA are keen to reveal Smith’s elevation to the job on Saturday, but it is also believed that - certainly until two or three days ago - the former left-handed opener had not had a formal proposal in hand.

On Thursday, long-time CSA sponsors Sunfoil (Willowton Group) joined the mounting call for both Nenzani and Moroe to resign.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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