CSA boss de­ter­mined to trans­form SA cricket

Aims to make game less elit­ist, more inclusive

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZAAHIER ADAMS

THA­BANG Moroe would have been for­given for not want­ing any­thing to do with cricket. This is be­cause his first task as act­ing head of Cricket SA (CSA) was to un­ravel the Global T20 League mess.

It was Moroe’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to ex­plain to the na­tion why CSA couldn’t af­ford a “$6-$8 mil­lion per year” (about R74m-R99m) drain on its fi­nan­cial re­serves for the next five years.

He did not duck the is­sues, and was quite up­front in his rea­son­ing, terming it a “no-brainer” and that “the best thing to do is stop the bleed­ing, take stock and come back stronger”.

How­ever, that would not have been the first time Moroe would have con­tem­plated walk­ing away from a game that had promised him so much when still a wide-eyed teenage fast bowler from Soweto.

His raw tal­ent earned him, along with his good friend Enoch Nkwe, a “golden ticket” out of the townships.

Moroe made the long jour­ney to Joburg’s elite sub­urbs where a schol­ar­ship granted him en­try to the pres­ti­gious King Ed­ward VII (KES) while Nkwe, who would go on to play 42 first-class matches for Highveld Strik­ers and Lions, was sent to St Stithi­ans.

The di­vorce of this friend­ship had a pro­found ef­fect on Moroe, es­pe­cially as the 13-year-old boy was placed in a hos­tel in for­eign sur­round­ings with­out any form of men­tor or sup­port struc­ture.

It was only af­ter re­al­is­ing that Moroe was suf­fer­ing psy­cho­log­i­cally that he was trans­ferred to a dorm with other boys from a sim­i­lar back­ground, which was re­ferred to as “the ANC dorm”.

“I got given a bur­sary by the Gaut­eng Cricket Board, but then ev­ery­one for­got about me. I was taken from the town­ship, thrown into this school where there is a com­pletely dif­fer­ent stan­dard of liv­ing and ex­pec­ta­tion.

“I im­me­di­ately felt lost… I was on the back foot,” Moroe told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia dur­ing the New­lands Test this week.

“Even on the cricket field I felt out of place. I only had my spikes and shorts. I had no kit. I re­mem­ber two of the guys telling me that I don’t be­long there and wasn’t wanted at that school. I still made the team.

“I was lucky enough that the board­ing mas­ter re­alised I was go­ing to struggle at KES. I didn’t have ‘tuck’ money. They put me in a spe­cial dorm where there were other black kids.

“It was here I met a host of guys who helped me. I could share cer­tain things I was go­ing through with them, and they would tell me ‘it will get bet­ter over time, we will help you with ad­just­ing, but for the rest… you need to man-up quickly!”

Moroe’s re­la­tion­ship with cricket at KES was strained, on and off the field. It was this, in ad­di­tion to hail­ing from Soweto, where ac­cess to ba­sic fa­cil­i­ties was a bat­tle, that formed the ba­sis of his pas­sion­ate drive to see the game trans­formed in this coun­try.

It is for this rea­son that, de­spite turn­ing his back on cricket af­ter his school years, he re­turned to play for Dob­sonville CC, close to his home. It was a jour­ney that took Moroe from the club cap­taincy, un­der the men­tor­ship of Gift Mathe, to the chair­man­ship of Black African Clubs, a coali­tion of cen­tral and south­ern Gaut­eng clubs, the Gaut­eng Cricket Board pres­i­dency and the CSA vice-pres­i­dency.

“Sport is pol­i­tics. Sport has the power to bring com­mu­ni­ties to­gether and tear us apart. You see how we tend to be­have as ad­min­is­tra­tors, coaches and se­lec­tors, we all say we are here to serve the game, but we do ev­ery­thing in our power to harm it be­cause we don’t want peo­ple of cer­tain colours to par­tic­i­pate. This is not just a black and white is­sue.

“Go to Gaut­eng and you will see how white Afrikan­ers struggle be­cause they are just as much seg­re­gated as black Africans. It is the same with coloureds and In­di­ans.

“Cricket is truly still an elit­ist sport. I will chal­lenge any­one that tells me oth­er­wise. How many ad­min­is­tra­tors have you heard on ra­dio and TV say ‘for you to make it, you must go to Saints, KES…

“No­body has ever told Heino Kuhn that be­cause he comes from ru­ral cricket ‘you are a mir­a­cle be­cause you don’t come from KES or Saints’.”

“I re­ally don’t have any­thing against these schools, par­tic­u­larly KES, for ev­ery­one who knows me within cricket will tell you how I fought with the se­lec­tors and my board col­leagues for Stephen Cook to be a Pro­tea. He was my cap­tain at KES. I have an is­sue with the mind­set be­cause that’s what’s hold­ing this sport back.

“Un­til we are one and all rep­re­sent­ing this coun­try, this flag, and ev­ery­one walk­ing into the sta­dium that all cheer us, we will never win the World Cup.”

De­spite still only be­ing the CSA “act­ing chief”, Moroe re­cently raised eye­brows in Port El­iz­a­beth when he al­luded to the fact that there could be sig­nif­i­cant changes to CSA’s mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with the South African Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion (Saca), which serves as the play­ers’ union.

Moroe could be the cen­tral role­player in a pend­ing bat­tle with Saca, es­pe­cially due to his ex­pe­ri­ence gained in busi­ness an­a­lyt­ics while hold­ing a top po­si­tion at MTN.

“Ul­ti­mately, the peo­ple who make money from cricket are the CSA, not a union‚“he said. “I just have a view on how a com­pany should be run from the man­age­ment point of view and how it needs to en­gage with a trade union.

“If CSA is tram­pling on peo­ple’s rights‚ the union must step in. If CSA de­cides to take a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion in grow­ing cricket‚ there is no room for a union there be­cause we are not tram­pling on peo­ple’s rights, we are pro­tect­ing the sport that we have been put in charge to ad­min­is­ter.”

Moroe is not your typ­i­cal suit-andtie ad­min­is­tra­tor. In fact, he prefers a tight-fit­ting golf shirt that shows off his heav­ily inked and mus­cu­lar arms.

But what­ever hap­pens in the com­ing months, be as­sured that the 34-year-old has the tenac­ity of a street­fighter, who won’t back down any time soon.

‘Un­til we rep­re­sent all, we’ll never win the World Cup’ ‘Sport has the power to bring us to­gether or tear us apart’

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