CSA boss determined to transform SA cricket
Aims to make game less elitist, more inclusive
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’