I’m truly sorry to make you choke over your breakfast, cricket fans, but if another ignominious exit in a knockout game at an ICC tournament last week was not disturbing enough, I have further bad tidings to bring you with the news that Cricket South Africa are not going to appoint the best man for the job when they choose their new chief executive officer.
The way CSA have gone about replacing Jacques Faul has been in keeping with the way their tarnished board has done most things in the last decade: not by considering what would be best for the game in South Africa, but by deciding based on cricket politics and the wishes of whatever camp is in the ascendancy at the time.
Most notably, they are choosing the new CEO based on the wishes of India, a board whose own administration is in absolute turmoil.
When Faul resigned at the end of February, CSA assured the media that the new CEO would be in place by the end of April. And it was an open secret that Haroon Lorgat, the former ICC chief executive and convenor of the South African selection panel, was the intended appointee.
But then it emerged that the Board of Control for Cricket in India – and in particular their shifty president Narayanaswami Srinivasan – were vehemently opposed to Lorgat’s appointment due to him crossing swords with the sport’s new powerhouses during his tenure at the ICC.
And so CSA faced a dilemma: kowtow to their paymasters and source of Gerald Majola’s and others’ dodgy bonus money, or appoint the man they themselves had been pursuing for over a year.
While having strength of character and moral rectitude might be too much to expect from those running cricket in South Africa, they should at least be capable of ensuring the future well-being of what is a multi-million rand concern.
One of South Africa’s leading captains of commerce, and someone who has served as a cricket administrator as well, makes it clear what qualities CSA should be looking for when choosing a CEO.
“I would call a meeting with whatever stakeholder it is and find out exactly why they are so opposed to the person you want to appoint as CEO. If it’s something like dishonesty then that should inform my decision. If it’s a good, rational reason like that, then you certainly take cognisance of it.
“But if it’s irrational, like if the candidate is not pliable or manipulable enough, then that’s not a good reason.
“I would expect the appointee to always play on the merits, the business case prevails. You don’t want your CEO to be aligned to any specific grouping because then you start putting yourself into a corner, ‘You back me and then I’ll back you’.
“It’s about transparency and you’re not a good decision-maker if your decisions are not made based on the merits of each case. That’s one of the biggest problems in our sport and why there’s so much nastiness and politics, it’s because of all these little camps.
“A CEO should always make decisions based on the merits of each individual case, that means one day I’ll agree with you, but the next day I might not. A CEO must be independent and not accountable to anyone else,” the captain of commerce said.
Haroon Lorgat would certainly be my choice as CEO based on those criteria.
He is a man of honour and dignity who could get a job anywhere in the world but feels obliged to give something back to South African cricket, which desperately needs a CEO of upright standing to try and shake off the grime from the Gerald Majola era.
South Africa have also lost their strong voice at the ICC over the last few years because of the revolving representatives that have gone to meetings since the Majola troubles surfaced. Mtutuzeli Nyoka, AK Khan, Willie Basson, Jacques Faul and Chris Nenzani have all represented CSA at the ICC in the last two years, several of them in acting capacities, which does not engender confidence either in them or the rest of the delegates.
The fact that South Africa is now also being seen as a patsy of the Indians has also caused respect to be lost within the ICC.
Lorgat has done no canvassing and has barely spoken to the media during this awkward time, and his character is further burnished by the way he was willing to stand up and do what he believed was right for the worldwide game while in charge at the ICC, however unpopular that made him with powerful self-serving forces.
Apart from his well-publicised support for the DRS system, Lorgat also angered the BCCI by insisting the 2011 World Cup game between India and England should be moved from Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, which was not yet ready for use after renovations, and resisted efforts to have the ICC headquarters moved from Dubai to Mumbai.
Lorgat had already been approached way back in March 2012 by numerous CSA board members to return to South Africa as CEO, but since having an interview at the end of April this year, he has heard nothing. In March and April, the CSA executive twice went to India for meetings with the BCCI, where Lorgat’s appointment was discussed.
That’s because the whole convoluted process has been re-started by CSA and they don’t even have a shortlist yet. The only reason for re-starting the process can be that they have decided against Lorgat and now need to find a fresh candidate.
Amongst the candidates now believed to be in line for the CEO position are cricket operations manager Mike Gajjar, transformation, women’s and amateur cricket manager Max Jordaan, Eastern Cape Warriors CEO Dave Emslie and Border Cricket Board CEO Themba Lupuwana.
They are all fine, upstanding cricket men, but their spheres of influence are indistinct blobs compared to the worldwide game Lorgat had to give shape to during his tenure from April 2008 to November 2011 at the ICC.
CSA said in mid-May that they would appoint the new CEO by the beginning of July, and with Lorgat not having heard back from them in two months, it seems certain that he is not going to get the job.
There is a slight glimmer of hope, however, in the current blitz on the Indian cricket administration due to the IPL corruption scandal. Srinivasan has responded to intensive pressure by stepping aside from his BCCI role, at least temporarily, and perhaps CSA can sneak through the right cricketing decision while their overlords are distracted by the blizzard of bad press in their own country. DM
Ken Borland hails from the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal and was educated in the Midlands before going to Joburg in 2004. For a small fee, he'll write or talk about anything and has been a contributor for Reuters, SuperSport, the BBC, various other radio stations around the world, and Midi Olympique. He has covered rugby and cricket World Cups and, even though his own game is a disgrace, numerous golf tournaments. In fact, he took up writing when it became clear he was not going to be actually playing in the big stadiums, no matter how keen he was! When he's not around a sports field somewhere, Ken is invariably in the bush, birdwatching, although the sea and its conchological riches also fascinate him. He is a keen follower of music and movies.