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Sport24.co.za | CSA: The fall that’s been so fast and so far

Cape Town – The
pace and violence of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) descent into widespread levels of chaos
has been as remarkable as the phenomenon itself.

Perhaps, for
purposes of demonstration, resorting to the cricket calendar is the most
educative yardstick: England are already in the warm-up phase of a major tour
of our shores – the opening match against the Proteas is the first Test at
Centurion from Boxing Day – and the domestic backdrop is enormously different
to when they last had a safari here, in 2015/16.

Mostly for
all the wrong reasons.

When vastly
experienced (domestically and internationally) administrator, chartered
accountant, former SACB first-class player and then-CEO Haroon Lorgat presented
his CSA annual statement for 2015/16, he wrote bullishly at the time: “We
experienced another stellar financial performance during the period under
review, with our actual revenue exceeding budget by some margin (2016: actual
R825m, budget R620m; 2015: actual R761m, budget R511m).

“We were
also flattered by the renewal of all our major commercial sponsorships plus a
new four-year flagship deal with Standard Bank South Africa … they are now the
Proteas’ title sponsor across all three formats of the game.”

Whisk to the
present, and CSA’s financial conundrum, by stark contrast, is extremely well-documented
… a situation only compounded a few days ago by Standard Bank announcing their
quitting of the Proteas sponsorship after the current season, following a
sequence of debilitating flashpoints in the corridors of power which culminated
in the suspension earlier this month of Lorgat’s successor as CEO in late 2017,
Thabang Moroe.

While Lorgat
was able to trumpet the firmly “on board” status of various other vital
sponsors four years back, a glaring feature of the Moroe administration has
been its inability to boast commercial backing for the lion’s share of major
franchise competitions and even the supposed new “international-flavoured” but
currently loss-making Mzansi Super League.

Back in
2015/16, the now merely “CSA 4-Day Franchise Series” was still the Sunfoil
Series, and the then still active franchise T20 competition (abolished now
after being run as the CSA T20 Challenge before falling victim to austerity
measures this summer) was sponsored by Ram Slam.

Only the
Momentum One-Day Cup maintains a common title between 2015/16 and the present.

But the
national team set-up was also infinitely more clear-cut when it came to
occupation of important, clear-cut portfolios.

There was a
full-time head coach then in Russell Domingo – roughly in the middle of his
four-year tenure – as opposed to the confusing situation just a few days ago of
an interim director of cricket (Graeme Smith, just signed, albeit for only
three months) overseeing an interim team director in Enoch Nkwe (now
effectively slipping a notch to assistant coach, after one series, with the
appointment of Mark Boucher to 2023 as head coach … at least a decisive step).

Nor were the
national selection berths vacant, as they had been more recently for several
months: at the time, Linda Zondi (welcomed back on board on Saturday) then headed
up a panel also comprising Hussain Manack, Domingo and two former national
players in Ashwell Prince and Errol Stewart.

Just a
handful of months onward from the English visit of 2015/16, South Africa played
in a one-day international Tri-Series in the Caribbean (also featuring West
Indies and Australia) … and a landmark event occurred that would, arguably,
make a significant mockery of at least part of the campaign to oust the streetwise
Lorgat as CEO in 2017.

Later to be
branded “anti-transformational” by an increasingly strident, ambitious black
African lobby within the CSA corridors, Lorgat was proudly able to trumpet, in
early June 2016, a national team fielding an unprecedented eight players of
colour.

Not only
that, but the combination – which saw appearances for all of Hashim Amla, JP
Duminy, Farhaan Behardien, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz
Shamsi and an emerging pace sensation in Kagiso Rabada – whipped the Aussies
by 47 runs in Providence, Guyana.

Mere
lip-service to transformation under Lorgat’s watch? Hardly, it seemed crystal
clear.

Remember,
too, a rich irony at the time: CSA were among several domestic sports administrative
bodies being forbidden, by then Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula (now Minister of
Transport, mind), from bidding for international-event hosting because of what
he perceived to be a sluggish pace of transformation.

If you
wished to deepen that sense of irony further, you could run the rule over the
last Proteas team to play a one-day international, under the CSA charge of a
pre-suspension Moroe: in the last match of their ill-fated 2019 World Cup on
July 6, a consolation, narrow triumph over Australia at Old Trafford, South
Africa fielded an XI dominated by white players.

Any
perceptive, visiting English enthusiast (there are always plenty of them) to
South Africa for the looming series, interested in more than just on-field
fortunes between the two countries, might well scratch his or her head over
just how comprehensively cricket administration here has lost its lustre and
competency in the space of the four years between tours.

Somewhere,
Haroon Lorgat (far from faultless, yet reputationally the skipper of tight
ships) might be looking into a non-alcoholic beverage and pondering recent life
with some sense of bewilderment as well …

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter:
@RobHouwing …

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