by Daniel Roodt
The 2019 Cricket World Cup in England was a dismal affair for the Proteas. Out of nine games, the team only won three, lost five and had one abandoned due to rain.
As a result of their poor showing at the World Cup, combined with prior poor performances, Cricket South Africa (CSA) decided to sack head-coach Ottis Gibson in August 2019. The dismissal took place a month before Gibson's contract was due to end. The team doctor and manager Mohammed Mossajee was also let go by CSA.
The firing of Gibson led to a large-scale restructuring of the Proteas and Cricket South Africa senior leadership team. Enoch Nkwe took over temporarily as team manager after Gibson's dismissal. Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith was then later appointed as director of cricket (DOC).
[Above: Graeme Smith via News24 courtesy of Gallo Images. Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith faces a sticky wicket in his bid to try to guide the Proteas and CSA away from their recently troubled past.]
Smith appointed former Proteas wicketkeeper and teammate Mark Boucher as head coach of the team while Charl Langeveldt was appointed as the bowling coach. Jacques Kallis (batting consultant) and Paul Harris (spin bowling consultant), were also bought in on a consulting capacity.
While Kallis and Harris were not appointed permanently, head coach Boucher expressed his desire in April to retain their services. Boucher stated, "It would be stupid to lose out on two cricket brains like that."
They make up the senior coaching team of the Proteas along with fielding coach Justin Ontong, who is the sole survivor of Gibson's reign.
The sacking of Gibson did not immediately right their bad run of form. The Proteas subsequently lost their test series with India and England and their T20 series with Australia and England. The Proteas also drew an ODI series to England in February this year.
Unfortunately for Cricket South Africa, their off-field problems did not end with the exit of Gibson.
According to News24, CEO Thabang Moroe was suspended for six months in December due to alleged misconduct. He was replaced by Jacques Faul who has been acting CEO since Moroe's suspension but is unsure as to whether this will become a permanent appointment.
However, on his legal team's advice, Moroe showed up for work in early June as CSA had failed to bring him in front of a disciplinary committee. This led to confusion as to the status of Moroe and CSA president Chris Nenzani was forced to reiterate that Moroe was still suspended.
In late July, after further criticism from Moroe’s legal team, CSA confirmed that they had enough in their report to formally charge Nenzani. However, these charges have not been formally revealed, but the Herald reported on 23 July that they had obtained further information on what these charges will be.
They claim that he will be charged on six counts of misconduct. The charges include “Revocation of media accreditation for journalists during the Mzansi Super League and the abuse of CSA credit cards.”
They further report that two other charges will be that he procured a service provider without going through a tender process and that he failed to cooperate with the forensic investigation into his misconduct.
The start of August marked eight months since Moroe was suspended with full pay for alleged misconduct.
[Above: Thabang Moroe via News24 courtesy of Gallo Images. Suspended Cricket South Africa CEO, Thabang Moroe should learn his fate in the coming weeks.]
Cricket South Africa was also left in a tricky situation after the Solidarity Cup's postponement. The Solidarity Cup was launched alongside a new format called three-team cricket (3TC) and was meant to take place at the end of June.
There would be three teams composed of current and former Proteas players that would compete against each other. It was also revealed that the CEO of 3TC was former Springbok captain and World Cup winner, Francois Pienaar.
Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, had been adamant that the tournament would go ahead on 27 June, stating that "everything had been approved". However, due to the threat of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic in South Africa, the tournament had to be postponed.
To make matters worse, a document was released that alleged head coach Mark Boucher was an investor in 3TC. This would have been an apparent conflict of interest as Cricket South Africa is commercialising the tournament. However, it was later revealed that the document was fraudulent, and CSA released a statement distancing Boucher from any involvement in 3TC.
As Lloyd Burnard said for News24, "An idea that was supposed to be exciting and ground-breaking for South African cricket has become somewhat of an embarrassment for CSA."
The game eventually went ahead on 18 July 2020 and was won by the team captained by former Proteas batsman, AB De Villiers.
According to the 3TC website, “This historic game was played on Nelson Mandela International Day - 18 July 2020, and featured 24 of South Africa’s finest cricketers.” All proceeds of the game were donated to the South African Hardship Fund.
[Above: Three team cricket via the 3TC website. The official poster advertising the new 3TC format that was played in Centurion on Mandela Day on 18 July.]
While the 3TC match was eventually played, it was a lot later than originally planned, and the build-up to the game left CSA in an embarrassing situation.
While the future of South African and global cricket is still uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing for sure is that Cricket South Africa needs to steady the ship.
The past year has been full of controversy on and off the field, and CSA needs a clear direction for the way forward. They need to rid themselves of their off-field problems while trying to get the Proteas back on the right track after a disappointing campaign.
CSA will need consistent leadership at all levels of the game if they want to move on from the current crisis in the boardroom and the world. The first step in that direction is ending the dispute with suspended CEO Thabang Moroe and supporting their young and somewhat inexperienced leadership team in the years to come.