This CSA Board’s NOT off the hook!

Chris Nenzani (Gallo Images)
Chris Nenzani (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Nail a fall guy and everything will be all right ... or at least hope like hell that will be the case.

That seems to have been the almost unashamed strategy of the surviving Cricket South Africa bigwigs - and most prominently the president, Chris Nenzani - in the wake of the suspension of CEO Thabang Moroe.

Moroe’s side-lining was the most forceful action of a dramatic couple of days for the crisis-torn organisation, although another step in at least some sort of remedial direction seems relatively imminent if, as indicated at Saturday’s CSA media briefing, distinguished former national captain Graeme Smith finally puts pen to paper in midweek as director of cricket.

Experienced cricket-specific administrator Jacques Faul (who took over from the much-respected, late Elize Lombard as Titans franchise chief executive in 2013, maintained high standards, and has already had a prior acting stint in the CSA hotseat) has been tasked with a fresh bout of stability-fostering responsibility.

In economic parlance, it might be termed the equivalent of mercifully halting a currency’s freefall ... but with a mightily formidable climb back upward to be undertaken and no guarantees at all of that happening at a gratifying pace.

Perhaps the most sobering, cutting reminder of that came in a tweet on Saturday from Tony Irish, outgoing chief of the SA Cricketers’ Association (@TonyIrishZA): “Appalled that the president and Board of CSA have taken no responsibility for cricket’s biggest crisis. Now clinging to power.”

SACA had already made it clear - before Moroe became the highest-profile CSA casualty on Friday - that they sought the resignation also of the entire Board, saying in a media statement: “It is abundantly clear that there is no confidence, from any quarter amongst cricket stakeholders, in the CSA Board.”

Those sentiments have subsequently been endorsed, often with some stridency and vigour, by many commentators, scribes, prominent past national players and - no less importantly at all - cricket supporters.

Against that backdrop, the Board defiantly dropping anchor commands anything but widespread approval in the extremely “gatvol” cricket fraternity.

Its ranks did thin a little last week with the resignations of three (the majority) of their five independent directors: Shirley Zinn, Iqbal Khan and Dawn Mokhobo.

Controversially still in play, however, are the remaining two independents, Prof Steve Cornelius and Marius Schoeman, and the full non-independent corps comprising Nenzani, Beresford Williams, Zola Thamae, Tebogo Siko, Donovan May, Jack Madiseng and Angelo Carolissen.

But they are swimming against a seriously strong tide if they assume the status quo, in their cases, is simply going to resume seamlessly.

For one thing, Nenzani pledging to try to mend relations with SACA - as he said on Saturday was the intention - must be seen in the context the players’ body’s stated disapproval of the very Board involved in that process, if it is even to start at all.

How on earth, too, is acting CEO Faul to set about a desperate, difficult quest for fresh sponsorships, knowing full well that the CSA Board, as presently constituted, is so widely being perceived as tainted by the damaging, corrosive multitude of events in the last couple of years?

The loss of Standard Bank as headline sponsors of the Proteas men’s team (they reportedly committed almost R100 million a year in the latest agreement cycle, over four years) is being rightly, widely lamented: what if they, for example, were to insist on a total or near-total dismantling of the present Board as a precondition for any change of heart?

Nenzani being at pains in Saturday’s press conference to absolve the Board of responsibility for the organisation’s parlous position is unlikely to wash with many influential stakeholders.

At very, very least they could justifiably be accused of not being nearly vigilant enough over the widespread, ever-mushrooming, sorry state of affairs in the CSA corridors.

It may take a long time for the Board to rid itself of a perception that it is very much part of what might be described in Britain as a “rotten borough”, with Moroe hardly sole culprit in the mess.

Yet time is an indulgence the embattled body - hamstrung by the image problem of its key custodians in the form of the Board - simply may not have.

Watch this space, I’d recommend.

Thick skins sometimes only take you so far …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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