There is a silver lining amid all the shambles
The only positive to come out of the T20 Global League fiasco right now is that all the best players in South Africa will be available for the domestic T20 competition that will fill the gap created by the collapse of the ambitious but overhyped get-rich-quick scheme.
The CSA T20 Challenge was going to be played from mid-March, in the middle of the Test series against Australia, and would have ended in mid-April, by which time everyone would probably have been exhausted anyway after what was going to be the most hectic summer in our history. The tour by India was going to be sandwiched in between the T20 Global League and the arrival of the Aussies.
But now the domestic T20 will actually have a decent window and the participation of the Proteas, so that is at least some good that has come out of the crater-sized hole that has been left in our cricket, both in terms of the calendar and financial resources.
Given the magnitude of the crisis – it has the potential to dwarf the Gerald Majola bonus scandal – it is only right and proper that Cricket South Africa shares with all their stakeholders – the public, the players and sponsors – just how they managed to get this so wrong.
The South African Cricketers’ Association’s (Saca) call for an independent review to be set up is exactly right, but after the machinations of the board during the bonus scandal, I have some doubts over CSA’s ability to put all their cards on the table so their stakeholders can get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong.
It is obvious that the CSA board once again, as in Majola’s case, allowed their CEO far too much latitude to operate on his own, doing what he liked without proper oversight. Another CEO told me that Haroon Lorgat’s sidelining of the chief financial officer from the biggest financial project the organisation has ever undertaken should have set off alarm bells.
The lack of timely action taken by the board (at least they did something before the bleeding became terminal) raises questions over the culpability of their own members in this disaster and that is something which should be within the scope of an independent review.
A more pressing issue is compensation for the players. While CSA are now so financially squeezed that they are like a lemon at a seafood festival, they are going to have to make payouts to the 144 players who were set to play in the T20 Global League.
Many of those had signed on for juicy contracts and have made financial commitments that are now in tatters; many gave up on other opportunities, some of them even at international level. Think of the players who qualified to be rookies this year, but by next year will be 24 and too old.
“The total player loss is very significant and there are many sad stories out there,” Saca head Tony Irish said.
And let’s not forget the bad PR that will follow from many of the top international players who will be spreading news around the world of how disgruntled and let down they feel.
Lorgat used to boast about how CSA were the top sports federation in the country, but after his ignominious fall, they are in the same position they were in when they appointed the former International Cricket Council CEO – desperately trying to win back the confidence of the players and public.