Thu, 23 Jan 2020

OPINION | CSA's very own 'National Braai Day'

News24
07 Dec 2019, 04:10 GMT+10

Cape Town - We've shifted quite a long way onward this year from September 24's annual National Heritage Day.

Just as commonly known as National Braai Day, you could say that Cricket South Africa (CSA) caught onto it a few weeks late this year ... a dramatic Friday, December 6 became their own busy time over the hot coals.

During it, CSA could be said to have done some potentially constructive cooking at last, but there was also some wince-triggering new burning for the unravelling organisation.

There have been tumultuous episodes in their post-isolation past, of course, like the match-fixing scandal (UCBSA era) affecting the late Hansie Cronje during his tenure as national captain, and the more recent power struggle that saw former International Cricket Council bigwig Haroon Lorgat eventually sacrificed as CEO in 2017.

But just not as many rat-a-tat-tat events - truly thick and fast - as happened on Friday, leaving journalists caught up in the whirlwind hardly short of angles to pursue, but also quite overwhelmed by the sheer volume of them as one development leapfrogged another.

If it had been cricket itself - something we could all do with a whole lot more emphasis on, frankly, as quickly as possible - it would been one of those rare, eight-or-nine-wickets-in-a-session episodes in a Test match.

Smoke began to rise in the morning session, if you like, with the revelation (soon to be dwarfed, a rapidly-repeating cycle as the day developed) that a third independent director had quit the Board.

Dawn Mokhobo stepping down meant that the majority - three - of the five independent figures had done so in the space of a few days, following hot on the heels of first Shirley Zinn and then finance committee chief Iqbal Khan.

But then came the bombshell announcement that you might say left CSA most lamentably fried in the "morning session": Standard Bank's decision to withdraw title sponsorship of the Proteas national men's team after a key association of close on two decades.

Like a lambchop being placed next to already spitting boerewors, the South African Cricketers' Association - as if they weren't already, increasingly the virtuous-looking guys in the multipronged saga - then issued a statement following a players' exco/management board meeting, outlining several pretty clear demands.

They included that CSA's chief executive Thabang Moroe and the entire CSA Board resign, and a full financial review and 24-month forensic audit.

Simultaneously, though, they significantly alleviated cricket-lovers' fears over the fate of the fast-looming home series against England by promising no industrial action by SA players during the bilateral combat.

As if all that wasn't quite enough to digest from the potjie, within what seemed and may only have been minutes, a kebab fell through the grid and onto the ash: the news that Moroe had been suspended by the Board for alleged misconduct (albeit on full pay, triggering some immediate raised eyebrows) as CEO.

Seemingly so at the fulcrum of the desperately messy sequence of events in the corridors of power, it was a development that will instantly have pleased many onlookers.

Any enthusiasm on that front, however, might have been tempered by the realisation that the Board (or at least what is left of it) which SACA wishes to see ousted, is still in place - it was due to have a Saturday meeting that could well see more fur fly.

Even while the hunt is on for an acting CEO, no time should be wasted at all in taking what I feel is one very critical, logical and cricket-geared step likely to earn reasonably universal approval despite the administrative state of flux: the empowerment of stalwart national captain Faf du Plessis and interim head coach Enoch Nkwe as stand-in selectors to get the ball mercifully rolling on home plans for the major four-Test series against England.

There has been no panel at all since the group led by Linda Zondi ended their tenure after the 2019 World Cup much earlier in the year, and unless some suitably high-gravitas names of interim selection volunteers can be found in a hurry, the process should simply be left "in house" and in the hands of two men who, in a sea of uncertainty, do at least appear glued into their berths for the approaching series.

Test combat begins on Boxing Day at SuperSport Park, which is now less than three weeks away.

Hardly helped by the emphasis on the very different demands of Twenty20 cricket over the past few weeks through the controversial Mzansi Super League, a Test mindset needs to be fostered with some urgency, and the first healthy step toward that is to assemble a 13- or 14-strong squad and generally play catch-up by getting a proper, preparatory agenda on the go.

Everyone who values cricket wants CSA to revert as quickly as possible to the very purpose of their existence: the wellbeing of the game.

There's ground to be made up after some damaging inertia ... now get cracking?

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