Like a top-class snooker player or a chess grandmaster, sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has now backed the Cricket South Africa Board into a corner from which they can only extricate themselves by acceding to his wishes.
That’s the view of former International Cricket Council and Cricket South Africa CEO Haroon Lorgat following Minister Mthethwa’s announcement on Wednesday that CSA had until October 27 to give him written reasons why he should not intervene in their affairs following the continued refusal of their Board to step down.
Mthethwa has also notified the ICC of his intention to intervene, raising the possibility of CSA’s membership being suspended, which would mean the Proteas being banned from international action and domestic cricket no longer being recognised.
“It’s a terrible situation and the Board now has so much egg on their faces that they have banded together to try and protect their own interests. But I think CSA are now snookered, they have checkmated themselves. The Minister and Sascoc have covered their bases and I suspect their legal advisors told them to be patient and follow process,” Lorgat told The Citizen on Wednesday .
“I have been impressed by the patience and good process followed by the Minister and I think he has compared notes with Sascoc and given CSA a fair chance. CSA are members of Sascoc and Sascoc has oversight responsibility, but the arrogant Board have just refused to budge. So the Minister’s announcement is a positive step and hopefully it’s now checkmate.”
Lorgat was also highly critical of the CSA Board’s attempt to take on Mthethwa, as revealed by the letters between the two parties published by The Citizen on Wednesday morning. (Read about it here: More woes for cricket’s embattled Williams as Mthethwa cracks the whip.)
“I have never seen this level of digging in heels before in South African sport. You may win one battle against the Minister of Sport but you are never going to win the war. Show me one stakeholder other than the 12 in the CSA Boardroom who support CSA’s stance? There’s no doubt the Minister has popular support for his actions,” Lorgat said.
The seasoned administrator, who this week was appointed director of strategy and development for the Abu Dhabi T10 League, said it was not guaranteed, however, that the ICC were going to automatically suspend CSA if Mthethwa does formally intervene in their affairs.
“In terms of the ICC, there’s a difference between interference and intervention. If there’s a family and there’s a tiff here and there, that’s normal in a marriage and the sports minister stepping in would be tantamount to interference. But if there’s a family and the father is going off the rails, if the kids are getting hurt or someone’s going to get murdered, then good people are going to intervene.
“I think the ICC may see this as a necessary intervention. A previous example was India when their Supreme Court ran a committee of administrators for three years in order to reform the BCCI and get it away from the likes of the Srinivasans. They were not suspended because a proper process was followed and cricket supporters and stakeholders are entitled to proper administration,” Lorgat explained.
What will happen if the ICC do decide to suspend Cricket South Africa?
- Firstly, they will write to the Minister of Sport telling him not to intervene or CSA will be suspended;
- If the Minister continues with his intervention, the ICC will then suspend CSA and stop all funding to them, as well as halt all recognised cricket, including the Proteas and domestic teams. Any cricket in South Africa will be deemed unsanctioned cricket, plunging the country back into isolation and expunging any games played during this period from the record books;
- England’s proposed white-ball tour in November/December will be cancelled, meaning CSA will lose around R70 million, a much-needed boost for their embattled finances;
- Zimbabwe were suspended by the ICC in mid-2019 due to political interference, meaning they missed qualifying for the World T20. The suspension was lifted three months later when Zimbabwe’s sport minister reinstated the ZC Board.
- A three-month suspension would decimate the South African season, putting paid to proposed series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and causing catastrophic damage to CSA’s already parlous financial situation.