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. 

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