South Africa


Graeme Smith accepts director of cricket role – temporarily

Graeme Smith (Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

‘To have him on board to work with the professional cricket arm of CSA, as well as the cricketing pipeline... is a massive shot in the arm for CSA during this period.’

Acting Cricket South Africa chief executive Jacques Faul announced former Proteas captain Graeme Smith as the new organisation’s new director of cricket on Wednesday.

Smith has taken on the role in an acting capacity for the next 12 weeks before heading to India for a more lucrative IPL coaching position.

It was telling that Smith only signed once Thabang Moroe was suspended as CEO despite engaging with the administrator for the better part of 15 weeks. It took Faul just 48 hours to change Smith’s mind.

Moroe’s attempts to strong-arm the media by revoking the accreditation of five journalists and overseeing a period of unprecedented financial instability, which culminated in the loss of R80-million-a-year sponsor Standard Bank last week, forced CSA’s complicit board to finally suspend Moroe.

Last month, Smith came out with a scathing statement after CSA initially approached him for the position – saying he was withdrawing himself from the race due to lack of confidence in the autonomy he’d be allowed.

“Following the news in the media this week that I interviewed for the CSA director of cricket role, I felt it necessary to confirm that I have, unfortunately, withdrawn my interest for the role,” Smith wrote on November 14.

“I would love to have taken on the role. However, despite my obvious desire to make a difference, during the long and, at times, frustrating process over the last 10 or so weeks of discussions, I have not developed the necessary confidence that I would be given the level of freedom and support to initiate the required changes.”

So what’s changed? Almost everything, is the short answer.

Moroe has been pushed out after an era of poor corporate governance, financial problems, a bulging staff contingent and poor management decisions.

CSA is facing a forensic audit that could uncover some interesting data, especially after head of the finance and audit committee Iqbal Khan quit the board last week. He cited Moroe’s “poor corporate governance” and “widespread credit card abuse,” as some of the reasons for his decision. His statement about credit card spending is sure to pique the interest of the external forensic auditors.

President Chris Nenzani and the remainder of the board, who are clinging to power, are in a weak position to try and use their influence over Smith in the near future, which gives him the freedom he initially sought.

Faul is a respected administrator and it’s clear that Smith felt comfortable dealing with the new man, although having an acting CEO and acting director of cricket two weeks before the first Test against England, is hardly ideal.

“I am delighted that Graeme has agreed to assist Cricket South Africa up until the IPL next year,” Faul said.

“Obviously, Graeme has had his concerns during the course of the last few months, but I am pleased to say that we have overcome those concerns and I look forward to working with him to urgently address pressing cricketing matters in particular.

“Graeme is statistically the most successful Test captain in the history of the game,” added Faul. “He is a natural leader and his knowledge of the game is second to none. To have him on board to work with the professional cricket arm of CSA, as well as the cricketing pipeline, which is so vital for our game, is a massive shot in the arm for CSA during this period.”

Smith added: “I’ve publicly stated a number of times that I would love to assist CSA in this difficult time, particularly in developing this new role of director of cricket.

I’m still as passionate about South African cricket as I ever was and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role. There is a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks and months and my objective will always be to make a positive impact during my tenure.” DM


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