Suspension from international competitions could follow if board is stripped of governing status
South Africa’s cricketers have apologised to sponsors and fans for the administrative upheaval that has led to ministerial intervention into Cricket South Africa (CSA).
National captains Dean Elgar, Temba Bavuma and Dane van Niekerk along with South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) president Khaya Zondo signed a statement urging that cricket’s issues be resolved to stop the game being “severely prejudiced,” by the threat of suspension from both the government and the ICC.
Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has issued notice of his readiness to use the National Sports and Recreation Act to intervene in CSA after the board’s failure to establish a new Memorandum of Incorporation that will pave the way for a majority independent board. The Act gives Mthethwa the right to withdraw CSA’s status as the game’s governing body, which would mean the national teams could not claim to represent South Africa. If Mthethwa uses that power, the ICC could interpret his actions as going against their code of conduct, which forbids government interference and could result in South Africa being isolated from the global game too.
SACA fear “dire consequences”, including an impact on the financial viability on the game and spoke directly to corporate backers in its statement.
“As players, we wish to speak directly to the many sponsors of our beloved game – such as SAB, Betway, Momentum, KFC,” the statement read. “We recognise and acknowledge that your involvement in the game supports our careers and provides funding for the development of the game throughout South Africa. We apologise for the actions of our administrators who have undermined and betrayed your commitment to the sport. And finally, to the most important stakeholder in the game – the public – we ask that you continue to support cricket. It is the most wonderful game, and we are immensely proud to represent you on the field.”
It is not yet known what Mthethwa’s intervention will be or when it will be enacted after his office issued a statement on Sunday saying the necessary steps would be taken in the coming week. South Africa are currently in the off-season, following the conclusion of the men’s series against Pakistan on Friday, and neither the men nor the women have any confirmed fixtures for the next two months. However, SACA have the bigger picture in mind and are concerned that the schedule could be irreparably affected.
“The Women’s team has enjoyed unparalleled success over the past 14 months, and the women’s game in South Africa is on the verge of significant expansion,” the statement continued. “The development of the game is now under serious threat, and at a time when we should be enthusiastic about the future, we have to be concerned about its future. The men’s team has an ICC World T20 Event in November. Preparation has already started for this event, and the current state of cricket administration undermines our work in this regard. It may even lead to our suspension from this event should the ICC decide to suspend South Africa.”
South Africa don’t have to look too far for a precedent in that regard. In 2018, Zimbabwe were unable to play in qualifiers for the T20 World Cup because the board was suspended by the ICC for government interference and, as a result, they will miss out on this year’s tournament.
CSA can avoid ministerial interference if the Members’ Council – the organisation’s highest decision-making body consisting of 14 provincial presidents – agrees on an MOI that lays the foundation for a majority independent board and independent chair. The Members’ Council voted against this at a Special General Meeting on Saturday.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent