South African cricket lurches to yet another crisis

South African cricket lurches to yet another crisis
(Photo: Unsplash / Chirayu Trivedi)

The South African Cricketers’ Association has joined the chorus of dissatisfaction against Cricket South Africa’s Members’ Council after the latter failed to accept a mandate to establish a majority independent board.

In the seemingly never-ending saga of abject Cricket South Africa (CSA) leadership decisions, the latest, by the Members’ Council to reject the mandate of Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa to appoint a board with a majority of independent candidates, has left the sport at yet another crossroads. 

An interim board appointed by Mthethwa last October to oversee a restructure of CSA after a series of governance failures has been unable to fulfil its mandate. The main priority of the interim board was to amend the Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) to pave the way for a permanent board with an independent chairperson and a majority of independent directors. 

A 2013 report by Judge Chris Nicholson, which was commissioned to investigate another CSA leadership scandal at the time, recommended that the sport would be best served by a board with more independence and less self-interest. 

The Nicholson Report was the roadmap, which guided the current interim board with the assistance of respected governance expert Professor Michael Katz, who advised both parties. 

Yet, the Members’ Council, CSA’s highest decision-making body, made up of the 14 provincial affiliate presidents, rejected the decision by eight votes to six. 

Despite claims by the Members’ Council in a statement that the decision was taken after consulting all its stakeholders, the South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) revealed that the most important stakeholders — the players — weren’t considered in the Members’ Council deliberations. 

“The actions of the Members’ Council are in extreme bad faith, and are a direct challenge to the authority of the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture,” Saca chief executive Andrew Breetzke said in a statement. 

“Furthermore, in November 2020 the Members’ Council approved the appointment of the interim board with the specific mandate to amend the MOI — a majority of independent directors being the cornerstone of that amendment. Their actions are indefensible and evidence of pure self-interest.

“This major setback has come at a time when the operational team at CSA has achieved great success in ensuring that our players enjoyed a domestic season despite the significant Covid challenges. 

“This has been achieved through collaborative work between CSA, Saca, CSA sponsors and broadcasters, and is evidence of what can be accomplished when stakeholders work together in the best interests of the game. 

“Whilst the Members’ Council has indicated that they are acting on the instructions of their constituencies, these constituencies do not include the players, sponsors and broadcasters — nor, would I imagine, the general public.” 

What now? 

Sources have indicated to Daily Maverick that Mthethwa has given the Members’ Council a week to reconsider its position and accept the amendment to allow for a new, more independent board. 

If they continue to refuse, he has the power to strip CSA of its right to represent the sport on behalf of the country, which would leave South Africa in international cricketing isolation. 

That seems an extreme and dystopian future for the sport, but as this is a contest of wills and brinkmanship, Mthethwa has the nuclear option, which the Members’ Council does not possess. 

The Members’ Council may be the custodians of SA cricket and have ultimate power over the interim board under the current MOI, but they do not have ministerial powers to override the needs of the country.

Daily Maverick understands that the Members’ Council has raised some legitimate concerns about the nominations for the process of appointing directors for the new, permanent board. 

This is a fair concern, but, as ever, it is something they have failed to relay publicly. They could have accepted the amendments in principle with the caveat that the nominations committee and process be transparent, or be explored more rigorously. 

Instead, they issued a weak statement justifying their stance: 

“After the interim board had communicated its discussion document on the composition of the CSA board, the various representatives of the Members’ Council underwent a comprehensive exercise of consultation with its affiliates to seek input and obtain a mandate on what was put forward,” the statement, which was not attributed to any person, read. 

“The majority of the affiliates rejected the proposals that were advanced by the interim board, specifically on areas that were non-negotiables. The affiliates felt that the interim board was imposing certain decisions on the Members’ Council without room for further exploration.  

“It should be stressed at this stage that the proposals that were advanced by the interim board are far removed from the recommendations of the Nicholson Report. Therefore, it cannot be said that the Members’ Council does not want to implement the recommendations of the Nicholson Report.” 

Naturally, the Members’ Council did not offer any details of what the nature of those proposals “far removed” from the Nicholson Report were. 

There have also been suggestions that the Members’ Council is concerned that “cricket people” will not be appointed to the board. Their definition of “cricket people” is unclear. 

What is clear though, is that the Members’ Council, if their logic is followed, must be staffed by “cricket people”. Yet they have only succeeded in lurching cricket from one crisis to another. 

Sascoc to resist board amendments on behalf of MC? 

To further sully the already murky waters, other sources revealed to Daily Maverick that several members of the Members’ Council have already expressed their concern to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) about the proposed amendments and asked the umbrella sporting body to intervene. They have “run to Sascoc” to try to save them. 

Sascoc president Barry Hendricks claimed ignorance when Daily Maverick asked him if Members’ Council representatives had approached Sascoc for help. That denial is in direct conflict with what two sources have told Daily Maverick. All Hendricks would venture was that Sascoc had “not seen the proposed amendments”.

Sascoc stood in CSA’s way of implementing Nicholson’s recommendations in 2013 for reasons that were never fully made clear and now it seems that Mthethwa might have to clip Sascoc’s wings in this situation too, if he hopes for a smooth resolution. 

And while all this plays out, cricketers and the sport itself suffers as South Africa’s status in the world game takes a pounding. And it’s self-inflicted, as it comes from the very people supposedly in power to do everything they can to put the interests of CSA and the sport first. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Mike Monson says:

    Could it be that opportunities for theft and corruption are behind the Member’s Council’s obstructive actions?

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Nobody with their own interests at heart would want an Independent Board questioning abuse.
    But it is not unreasonable to have doubts about the appointment process.
    It is not as if SA Inc has a good track record in appointing Independent non self serving Boards.

  • ROY CLARKE says:

    Who are the members that are holding cricket to ransom. Please can DM provide names, what province and pictures of them.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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