Johannesburg - The last fortnight in SA cricket has created the impression that the sport has gone full circle.
Once more it’s the players who have lifted the sport above the muck created off the field.
The Proteas’ performances in recent weeks were inconceivable. To win against that Indian team, which rolled into the country high on confidence having played superb cricket at home and away in the last few years, must rank as one of the greatest performances by South Africa in 30 years.
But the hugs and smiles from the players and coaches in the last few weeks, and the joy of South African fans – even as they missed out on watching inside the stadiums – took time to create.
Therein may lie a lesson for everyone. It’s very easy to criticise this new board of directors. Boy, they have stuffed up on a lot of their messaging since occupying their seats last July. Certainly, their timing about some critical matters related to the men’s national team – still the primary asset in SA cricket – has been shoddy. The fact that a CEO still hasn’t been appointed is deeply concerning.
The new board inherited a big mess, so in attempting to clean up the sport, mistakes were going to be made.
A bit like the Proteas under Mark Boucher, there have been a lot of mistakes on and off the field. That’s understandable; there’s been a new coaching structure, a new chairman of selectors, the assistant coach resigned quite suddenly, new captains had to settle into their roles, and the pandemic continues to play havoc with the schedule.
Boucher said this week that the team had, in his mind, turned a corner some time ago. The first tangible evidence of that new direction has come in the last few weeks against India.
And perhaps it should be the same for the administrators. It is easy to criticise, whether you think they’ve handled the fallout from the Social Justice and Nation Building report well or not; whether they’ve done enough to attract sponsors back to CSA, or how they’re handling streamlining the senior management structure at the organisation.
The timing of some statements have been poor and it was somewhat startling to read in an Afrikaans Sunday publication that acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki says CSA’s communications department is “a problem”.
Given how poor CSA’s administration has been in recent years, creating a better reputation with the public is essential and that demands good, proficient communication.
It appears the board is in a rush to establish itself. Creating a better environment in SA cricket will take time, just like that turnaround for the national team took time. Rushing now could lead to bigger and avoidable challenges in the future.
The reputation of sports administrators in this country is poor, and CSA and its new board can ill-afford to have the public against it this early in its tenure.