Saturday, December 28, 2019

South Africa extend lead to 300 in action-packed first session

Rassie van der Dussen and nightwatchman Anrich Nortje put a stop to any thoughts England had of a quick morning session with a dogged half-century partnership which  helped lift South Africa to 197/7, and the lead to over 300. The lead, which already appears insurmountable will likely balloon past 350 in the next session with the mood and form which Quinton de Kock is in. He is currently at the crease with Vernon Philander. de Kock has already taken a liking to Jofra Archer's pace bowling dispatching him for three sixes and a four. The English will be hoping for a miracle on a ground which  has never seen 300 chased, and has only seen 200 scored by the side batting last once in  the last 10 years.

Friday, December 27, 2019

New players, new coaches, same problems

For all the talk of the changes which were being introduced to the South African cricket team, Day One of the domestic summer revealed the same problems. Joe Root won the toss, and inexplicably decided to bowl first on a deck which has a reputation for being incredibly up and down towards the end of the game. When you opt to bat last in Centurion, you really do basically have to roll the opposing team, and set yourself up to either bat only once, or only chase like 100 to win on the final day. With South Africa already on 278/9, chances are pretty high that this will not be a situation where England will only bat once. From that perspective, you could argue that honours were even on day on. Add in that England won the toss, and you could say that South Africa won the day.

With that said, however, it did seem like much of the same problems remained. South Africa, who it must be remembered are in the middle of a five-game losing streak, showed many of the same batting frailties which have plagued them for the vast majority of that run. For one, they once again could not get anything going with the opening partnership. This time, Dean Elgar was dismissed with the first delivery of the day. Aiden Markram looked good for 20 runs, and then as usual let it go to waste with a very soft dismissal. The middle order? As per usual they parted like the Red Sea and they were 111-5 before you'd digested your Christmas leftovers. Then, almost on cue, Quinton de Kock came on and played one of the best knocks you'll see in your entire life, a majestic 95, which was worth a century given the situation he came in on. The idea is that having Quinton de Kock keep wicket allows for the team to have more flexibility. Indeed, having de Kock at 6 is part of the reason they could have Pretorius at 7, and not sacrifice, ostensibly, any batting talent. But at some point the think tank at large is going to have to seriously consider whether or not you really want your best batsman having to bat with the tail as de rigeour rather than an indication that something has gone terribly wrong. Indeed, the back-up wicketkeeper in the squad at the moment, Rudi Second has a higher First Class average than everyone in the team bar Zubayr Hamza, so it could be argued that he should have gotten the nod anyway, and lifting the gloves off Quinny would lighten his load and allow him to focus on his batting. There seems to be no end in sight to South Africa's batting woes, but fortunately, there is no end to the list of possible solutions.

Friday, December 6, 2019


Dear Stakeholders


The Board of Directors of Cricket South Africa has taken a decision to put the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Thabang Moroe, on precautionary suspension with pay, effective 06 December 2019, on allegations of misconduct, pending further investigations. The decision to place Mr Thabang Moroe on precautionary suspension follows from the reports received by the Social and Ethics Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board related to possible failure of controls in the organisation.

During the course of Mr. Thabang Moroe’s precautionary suspension, a forensic audit of critical aspects of the business and the conduct of management related to such aspects shall be conducted by an independent forensic team. In this regard, we urge all our stakeholder including sponsors, members of staff, players, volunteers and cricket fans to allow this process to unfold and we will provide updates on this matter.

In the interim, the Board of Directors has mandated the Chairman to look at various options including holding discussions with Mr. Dave Richardson, the former Chief Executive Officer of the International Cricket Council (ICC), regarding the appointment of an Acting Chief Executive Officer for the duration of Mr. Thabang Moroe’s precautionary suspension.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Another day, another headline at embattled Cricket South Africa

Today is Thursday. The fourth day of the week, fifth if you observe the Sabbath. That intro carries no meaning other than to clarify that we are deep into the work week, and we are yet to have a day where Cricket South Africa was not marred in some sort of controversy. This time, the independent board member, Iqbal Khan, a board member since 2012 tendered his resignation. This was due to a myriad of reason which had concerned Khan, these issues included CSA's recent attempted purge of media members. 

The other issues of concern for Khan were:

- Moroe's blaming communications head Thami Mthembu for miscommunication or non-effective communication with the media when it was Thabang Moroe who was ultimately responsible for such communication;
- CSA not paying the SA Cricketer’s Association (Saca) a contractual amount in terms of a key      stakeholder contract and the blame therefore was placed with the three suspended officials (COO Naasei Appiah, sales and sponsorship head Clive Eksteen and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl) despite the contract being signed by Moroe;
- Several resignations in the CSA office due to what they say is a legally toxic environment;
- Widespread credit card abuse in the office;
- Hastily organising a press conference this week then cancelling it at the last minute;
- Very selective communication with Saca and a failure to engage them in terms of the CSA collective agreement with Saca;
- The mishandling of the director of cricket issue, and
- Bringing CSA into disrepute.

“In my humble view, the deep crisis that cricket finds itself in cannot wait for a board meeting to be held on Saturday. I was thus most surprised and deeply disappointed that a board meeting scheduled for last night [Tuesday] failed to materialise. Surely for a board meeting to be convened, we do not physically have to be in the same place. We have on numerous occasions convened board meetings by teleconference,” Khan said.

“The criticism in the media and by the public who love and support cricket has reached such a crescendo that I can no longer be deaf to the cries of immediate changes at CSA board level. Before Professor Shirley Zinn resigned, I still maintained I would give things a chance and wait until Saturday for us to address the crisis we find ourselves in.

“I seriously doubt however that you and/or the board is capable of doing so and, in the circumstances, I have reached the only conclusion, and that is I must resign my position on the board, as well as my position as chairperson of the CSA finance committee,” Khan wrote.

Monday, December 2, 2019

SACA's response to CSA's media blacklistings

“It’s a sorry state of affairs when attempts are made to silence respected journalists for writing about the ongoing problems in the game,” said SACA chief executive, Tony Irish.  “This is not however dissimilar to what SACA has had to endure over the last nine months, during which we have been barred from CSA sub-committees, denied access to critical information necessary for us to represent the players and had our agreements breached with impunity.”
At SACA’s annual general meeting of players in November it was specifically mandated by the players to re-affirm its concerns relating to the financial position, the domestic restructure, the CSA/SACA relationship, the Proteas (men) team structures, the financial aspects of the MSL and CSA’s refusal to engage SACA to resolve these issues.  In response to SACA letters taking these up, CSA has however persisted in its refusal to address any of the concerns and instead has stated that they are ‘sub-judice’ under the current High Court application.
“Many of the concerns we have are not even related to the High Court application yet CSA continues to refuse to address them” said Irish.  “Now in the last week there are added concerns relating to ‘unknown selectors’ selecting the Proteas team and the barring of cricket journalists from matches.  It is clear to us that things are getting worse, not better.”
“On behalf of the 310 professional cricketers which we represent we are now left to publically implore the Directors of CSA to exercise their fiduciary duties by acting to deal with these issues and to protect the game from further damage.  The players not only care deeply about the game but also understand that their careers depend on its health and sustainability. From a players’ point of view we therefore want to see solutions to the current problems, and for the game to be returned to a healthy position as a matter of priority,” concluded Irish

Norman Arendse's open letter to South African cricket

‘Dear cricket-loving fraternity,
‘It is painful to pen this letter. However, there is just too much at stake to permit our great sport of cricket to fall any further. Silence would be much more painful. Therefore, I write this open letter of appeal to our cricket family members, the CSA board, the CSA members’ council and the paid CSA administrators to act before it is too late,” writes Arendse.
‘I suspect, however, that the horse has bolted, and that we are beyond the precipice, and into the abyss.
‘As a former CSA president, and until just over a year ago, the CSA lead independent director, I have the utmost respect for prescribed procedures and protocols to be followed when differences arise within the cricket family.
‘It appears, however, that for several reasons that have manifested publicly, the family differences cannot and will not be resolved through the prescribed route.
‘What prompts me to say this is not sourced from any insider knowledge or some whistle-blower; they are sourced in CSA’s own public pronouncements and written media statements: the restructuring of our domestic competitions; the concentration of power in the hands of the CEO to make key appointments (approved by the CSA board); the failure to make key board committee appointments including the failure to appoint the independent lead director (after more than a year since the election of the board); the suspension of senior executive officials; the ongoing dispute with the South African Cricketers’ Association; and the recent dispute with the Western Province Cricket Association, which ended in a humiliating loss for Cricket South Africa at arbitration.
‘These issues are all well documented and are public knowledge. The last straw must surely be the most recent banning by CSA of several highly respected cricket journalists who collectively have decades of experience in cricket. [Some of them I have disagreed with both privately and publicly, but it never entered my mind to suggest or propose that they are banned from the game.]
‘Their banning is unconstitutional, and unlawful, and must be deplored by all cricket lovers.
‘The future sustainability of cricket is also at grave risk given the public CSA pronouncement of a projected shortfall of hundreds of millions of rands. It appears that the culling of franchise cricket as we know it is a direct response to CSA’s financial woes.
‘I do not wish to be hypocritical or self-serving. As a veteran cricket administrator, I have learnt to accept constructive criticism [especially from well-meaning and experienced cricket journalists], and from members of the public who know their cricket.
‘Along the way, mistakes have been made. All of us in the cricket family thought that Nicholson would be the panacea for all our cricket ills. Indeed, my six years on a restructured CSA board proved that this was the case – well, almost!
‘This was a honeymoon period for cricket: we ranked among the best in the world in all formats of the game; we were highly respected at ICC level; our transformation strategy appeared to be working with an exponential increase in the number of black African players, in particular, representing the country at the highest level; and, the exponential increase of black African cricketers participating at franchise and provincial level; and financially we reached the billion-rand mark [even before our own national soccer league did!].
‘We had over R600 million in reserve. These reserves have now dwindled dramatically, and with the unsponsored Mzansi Super League, these reserves will likely be depleted shortly.
‘Lastly, the utterances of CSA’s head of media and communications, Thamie Mthembu, rank with those of Saddam Hussein’s spokesman “Baghdad Bob” or better known as “Comical Ali”.
‘The CEO’s recent interview has also not inspired any confidence that he is capable of arresting CSA’s decline, let alone turning around the organisation to put it on a more secure and sustainable footing.
‘All of the above leads me to one very sad conclusion: the CSA board has simply abdicated its fiduciary responsibilities by failing to act with the due care, skill and diligence required of it by the Companies Act, and the CSA constitution. To the extent that the CSA members’ council are aware of the above-mentioned shortcomings and failures of governance, they too must share responsibility, and be held accountable.
‘I never, ever thought I would do something like this, but I have plucked up the courage to do so not only to appease my own conscience, but also in response to the many, many expressions of concern I have received from across the cricket family: past and present administrators, past and present cricketers of all colours, all persuasions, all communities and all religious groupings.
‘I, therefore, call on the board and the members’ council to meet urgently to consider the matters raised in this letter, and to hold the CEO [and those who have been complicit] to account.
‘I have shared the contents of this letter with advocate Vusi Pikoli [former independent member of the CSA board, and past chairperson of the CSA social and ethics committee] who endorses the sentiments expressed in this letter.
‘Norman Arendse SC’

Sunday, December 1, 2019

2019 in review: CSA's annus horribilis

Cricket South Africa has a lot of problems. It has gotten to the stage where they probably have more problems than they have positives. This year, for the first time, the Proteas lost to a subcontinental team at home. Not only did they lose, they got whitewashed by a Sri Lankan team which was without their two best batsmen. This disastrous home summer was then followed by a disastrous World Cup where South Africa went a month without a win and managed to lose every single must-win game they had that tournament. On top of all that, they then had a PR nightmare when it was revealed that AB de Villiers had had a literal last minute change of heart and wanted to go to the World Cup. In whose stead we can not say. Finally, South Africa went to India and outside of the first innings with the bat, where they scored over 400, they were basically pummelled from pillar to post. As a rule, with very little exception, a team needs 20 wickets to think about winning a Test. South Africa didn't get their 20th wicket in the series until their fourth bowling innings in the third Test. That is, to say the least, not good. 

Those are just the on field problems, off the field is basically a war zone. As of now, with an inbound Tour of England just weeks away, the Cricket South Africa still does not have a permanent Director of Cricket. In fact all we know about the director of cricket spot is that Graeme Smith was not willing to take the role without structural changes coming in. What those structural changes are, no one can say for sure. What we can say though, is that Cricket South Africa literally just had an organisational change less than three months ago. In an unprecedented display of jargonism, CSA fired their coach Ottis Gibson and hired young hotshot Enoch Nkwe to be the Team Director. What exactly is the difference between a coach and a team Director you may ask? Well, we are glad you asked because as far as the eye can see, there does not exist a single one. In an even more ridiculous display of re-arranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic, CSA removed the title of General Manager and created the newly minted Director of Cricket. Here's the kicker: The acting Director of Cricket, and the former General Manager were the exact same person, former coach Corrie van Zyl! How different can the roles be when the exact same person is asked to fulfill them? Have I mentioned yet how CSA is currently in multiple legal battles with the South African Cricketer's Association (SACA)? That's right; multiple. Plural.

The first is a long running battle over the decision to restructure the domestic scene and increased the amount of sides in the set up from six to twelve. SACA argues that this decision would cost up to 70 cricketer's their job, and like any good trade union, they are not prepared to let this happen. An explanation with regards to how an ostensible expansion of the amount of teams in the domestic set-up would lead to a decrease in the amount of professional contracts in circulation is probably necessary, but that truly is a story for another day. The jist of it though, is that the South African set up has two tiers: A franchise tier, comprising of six teams, and a district tier, comprising of 13 teams. The district tier is semi professional, but basic Maths should tell you that even if more semi professional contracts are absorbed in the restructure from six to twelve teams, it would still be a cut from 19 domestic cricket outfits to 12. It should be noted that in and of itself the restucture shouldn't be assumed to be a bad thing, former New Zealand cricketer, and TUKS cricket coach, Kruger van Wyk for instance thinks it will give more players a shot at proper cricket, and he in fact believes that the 6 team limitation has in fact created a bottleneck effect in South African cricket, with very few talent getting the appropriate chance. The people running the show in accounting in CSA have also forecast that the restructure would lead to a saving of R300m for a cash-strapped organisation over the next four years. 

The second is a more recent, and yet, somehow older faux pas from CSA which  resulted in the players from last year's Mzansi Super League not receiving image right payment. This was an altogether more disastrous matter, which has thus far led to the suspension of the aforementioned Director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl, Clive Eksteen and Chief Operations Officer Naasei Appiah. CSA has since agreed to pay R2.5m into the SACA player's trust, in their defence, but the latest saga did nothing to assuage fears that CSA is a rudderless ship. 

Oh and remember how the domestic restructuring would save CSA R300m over the next four years? Well, to be clear, that saving would only mean that their losses over the next four years would be a far more palatable R350m, instead of the disastrous R654m that was first projected. So bad, but not quite as bad as the original forecast. 

This is ti say nothing of the fact that the Western Province Cricket Association was put under administration by CSA, and then managed to succesfully sue their way out of administration because apparently CSA were wrong to put them in administration, and thus lost ANOTHER legal case. 

It would be unfair to say that CSA is currently a circus which seems to be better equipped to blow money than run proceedings in a manner fit and in line with that of a modern company operating with a spreadsheet and a semblance of plan. That is not what we are saying, but if it was what we were saying, there would certainly be a lot of evidence affirming this position. 

To the couch for Bouch

There is an old saying in Tennessee, I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, we will tolerate you until we can replace ...