If you thought watching the Proteas suffer through the ignominy of their early World Cup exit was bad, with a side of AB De Villiers selection drama thrown into the mix, wait until you see what comes next.
Sadly, virtually every single sport in this country is hampered by its governing body, and the rot starts from the top.
Just ask Graeme Joffe, or read his book, SPORT: GREED & BETRAYAL: Wanted for crimes against Journalism, for a reality check on the mass systemic corruption in South African sport which is shattering the dreams of the country’s athletes.
Much of this goes uncovered by some of the country’s most widely read publications, who are reliant on advertising revenue from those same governing bodies in order to remain afloat.
It stinks, and the same can be said for the current mess within Cricket South Africa’s ranks.
Earlier in the week, Ottis Gibson and his support staff were given the boot, which was a step that was welcomed by most Proteas supporters.
Behind the scenes, though, the political machinations have been hard at work.
Before we get to that, let’s first deal with the ongoing dispute between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA), which Sport24 says has seen the relationship to drop to an all-time low:
[Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang] Moroe is pushing forward with the proposed change to South Africa’s domestic structure and an increase to 12 professional unions, but he has been met with firm resistance from SACA, who have demanded to see detailed financials explaining how such a decision would work before agreeing that a restructure should happen.
A court battle is ongoing.
The relationship, already strained, took another blow when Moroe [above] suggested on Tuesday that he sees the players’ body having less of a say in professional matters moving forward.
He wants communication with players to improve, for them to ‘behave in a certain way’ when representing CSA and to take back the responsibility of player welfare from SACA.
‘Behave in a certain way’ is a thinly-veiled way of saying ‘do as you’re told’. If you thought talented youngsters were already looking abroad, with the temptation of the pound and a Kolpak contract proving a strong pull, this basically throws gasoline on that fire.
Moroe says talks between the parties are still ongoing, but SACA CEO Tony Irish isn’t mincing his words about the work that lies ahead if bridges are to be repaired:
“SACA has been around for 17 years and is the most respected independent players’ body we have. It performs normal duties like looking after players, their contractual and financial situations and providing educational welfare,” Irish said.
“For the majority of the time, we have been doing this in partnership with CSA.
“Any attempt to push SACA out of these areas is simply an attempt to marginalise the organisation and its role.
“It’s disrespectful to the players themselves. Every professional player in this country is a member of SACA.”
Irish says that SACA has been kicked off CSA committees, had no communication from CSA before the proposed domestic restructure and that systematic agreements between SACA and CSA have been fundamentally broken.
“There is a clear breakdown in the relationship and it is at an all-time low,” he said.
Right, so the players and the governing body are at war. Noted.
Then let’s look a little closer at the now all-powerful CEO Moroe, and how the sacking of Gibson played out.
Whilst most reporting before the World Cup said that Gibson had a clause in his contract that stipulated he was liable to be sacked if he didn’t win the tournament, that is not the case.
There was a somewhat vague clause about ‘success at a major tournament’, but Gibson was actually approached in February of this year about extending his contract post-September, when it was due to expire.
Whilst the team’s performance was important, other factors seem to be equally so. Again, from Sport24:
“I first spoke to Ottis and told him that I would like to suggest that the board look at his contract with a possible extension,” Moroe explained.
“Ottis [below] responded by saying that he would look at being re-employed until 2021 and that that’s what I should suggest to the board.
“I did suggest that to the board and they deliberated on that. They agreed that we could go ahead and extend the coach’s contract subject to him agreeing to key pointers in his contract changing.
“Part of that would have been EPG (transformation targets), part would have been communication and part would have been performance.
“We went back to the coach and communicated such to him. He said he could not immediately agree until he saw what his contract looked like.”
Here’s where the power that lies in Moroe’s hands becomes clearer:
At that same February 1 board meeting where Moroe suggested to the board that Gibson’s contract be extended, it was also proposed that Moroe be given the final sign-off on all starting team line-ups moving forward to help ensure that the Proteas met their transformation commitments.
Gibson, as was reported earlier, was hugely disappointed that he and team management, including the selector of convenors Linda Zondi, had not been consulted before the board’s decision to hand signing power to Moroe.
At the last minute, CSA president Chris Nenzani intervened, and Gibson retained selection power ahead of the World Cup.
By then, though, the relationship between Gibson and Moroe had all but disintegrated. Those attempts to interfere in selection policies apparently came right from the top, reports IOL:
Gibson was angered by plans that Moroe had the final say on each Proteas starting team…
Moroe in his communication to Gibson at the time and again on Tuesday cited government pressure regarding Cricket SA’s achieving its transformation targets as reasons for wanting to reignite the oversight policy.
Gibson is gone, Linda Zondi is also on his way out, and current Proteas manager and team doctor Mohammed Moosajee has asked not to be considered for a role within the team, after falling out with administrators.
Ultimately, we are now looking at a situation where one person at the top calls all the shots, and those lower on the food chain must just play ball.
CSA is dressing up the latest changes as a “dynamic new structure”, but it’s really setting up a dictatorial system that is rife for political interference.
Do those responsible for selection need to ensure that our team meets its transformation targets? Of course, and anybody who says otherwise isn’t being honest about the reality of how sport in this country redresses the ills of the past.
That should be done in an open and transparent manner, though, rather than a CEO who can veto a call whenever he sees fit.
This so-called dynamic restructuring sees the head coach role completely done away with. Instead, a team manager, who answers to the director of cricket (who then answers to Moroe), will assume much of the day-to-day work that Gibson was previously tasked with.
That includes appointing the coaching staff and the captain(s) of the Proteas, and the coaching staff, medical staff, and administrative staff will all report directly to him.
The next team manager will be appointed by the current acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl, and will have to be signed off by Moroe.
Whoever becomes team manager (some reports suggest former England coach Peter Moores) will have to accept those terms of employment, knowing that their team selection could be overruled when those above them see fit.
We have a governing body at war with its athletes, a governing body that seems unlikely to grant those it appoints the autonomy they need to be successful, and politicians watching on eagerly, with scant to no regard for what a team needs in order to rebuild from the wreckage of a dismal World Cup campaign.
In short, a mess.
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