JOHANNESBURG – There is a little more than a month to go to Cricket South Africa’s next Annual General Meeting and to say the organisation is in a state of chaos might be an understatement.
Chris Nenzani is a lame-duck president. The next few weeks are his last in that position and the jockeying has started from those keen to replace him and the sniping has grown to a cacophony from those that were once his allies but are now using his errors as a way to deflect from their own misdeeds and possibly force their own candidate into the federation’s highest position.
Last year at about this time, the now suspended chief executive Thabang Moroe, smiled and stated how he’d taken most of the responsibilities that used to lie with the Board of Directors..
“There was a lot of work that had to be done over the last two weeks before an agreement could be reached that the Board would relinquish all this power and give it to management.” That was on August 6, 2019.
Nenzani would deny that so much responsibility rested with Moroe, so did Moroe’s chief ally Jack Madiseng, who then in a startling about face resigned and blamed Nenzani for leaving Moroe to his own devices.
It was a mess then, and a year later, CSA’s administration continues to wallow in filth.
And into that shambles a motley crew will wade, canvassing for support, to take over from Nenzani, while pledging to plot a new way forward for an organisation, where leadership has been desperately lacking for a long, long time.
The presidency is one of the positions up for grabs on September 5, with Nenzani, who served two terms and then an extra year – which he later regretted – stepping down. The vice president, Beresford Williams has been campaigning for the top job, which if he gets it means, there’ll be a vote for the vice presidency too.
At least two other spots among the non-independent directors on the Board will also be voted for, while the three new independent directors, Vuyokazi Memani-Sedile, Dheven Dharmalingam, and Dr Eugenia Kula-Ameyaw will likely complete the formalities of being appointed to the Board. The trio along with Steve Cornelius and Marius Schoeman, will have to nominate a Lead Director from amongst them.
What Cricket SA desperately needs however is a restructuring of its administration. Nenzani said recently that discussions about that topic “were on-going” at Members Council level, but it is precisely that they’re “on-going,” that’s the problem. This Board, which Nenzani chaired with Williams alongside him, took four years to move from deciding Cricket SA needed to appoint a Director of Cricket to then finally doing so.
The Board needs to be downsized from 12 to 10 (or even nine), which is easily achieved by reducing the number of provincial presidents (or Members Council representatives) that currently serve on it from seven to three.
That would allow room for a former player (or players) to be nominated to the Board – preferably someone who’s played after 2000 and thus has seen the changes cricket has undergone – such as the growth of T20 leagues – and thus provide an understanding of the demands placed on modern players. It’s critical that such an ex player – or players – sit on the Board and are not seconded to some committee, because it is at Board level where strategies are discussed and eventually from where they have to be implemented. Giving the Board direction on the impact its decisions will have on the players is invaluable and has been a missing element in CSA’s administration for too long.
It is partly because of that lack of player influence that we’ve heard so many heartbreaking stories from black players in the last few weeks.
Cricket SA’s administrators go to indabas, write up reports, but what is happening at administrative level did not filter down to the playing level and the absence of input from an ex player is a primary reason that happened.
The next two to five years are absolutely critical for CSA. Managing the parlous financial situation it finds itself in will require flexibility and creative thinking.
The provinces are not in a healthy state – with Easterns the latest to be the topic of an inquiry by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe, North West making rumblings about a report regarding an inquiry that saw the board there suspended, while at Western Province – where Williams was in charge – the building site at Newlands is running into a financial mess once again.
Then there’s the national mens team which desperately needs clarity about its future, particularly a strategy pertaining to the next World Cup.
Cricket South Africa requires firm, thoughtful, innovative leadership, but looking around the organisation at the moment, it should concern all lovers of the sport in this country, that that kind of leadership just isn’t there.
The future for CSA looks to be a very dark one, unless some radical changes can be made and a clear direction can be provided.