CSA leadership battered, bruised and on the ropes

Cape Town - The new Cricket South Africa (CSA) leadership is under pressure and on the ropes, and it has nothing to do with anything happening on the field.  

This time, last year, Haroon Lorgat had one goal: to launch the first ever T20 Global League. 

It was a tournament designed to lure international players, an international audience and international investors and it was to be South Africa’s glamorous answer to the IPL and Big Bash.

Cashing in on the T20 gravy train is a party that South Africa was years late to, but this was a way of keeping players in the country and, ultimately, secure the long-term financial success of the sport.

It didn't work out that way. 

Lorgat was ousted as CEO, and just days later Thabang Moroe and the CSA board binned the Global League. The absence of a dedicated broadcaster and concerns over the product’s financial sustainability were cited as the reasons, and Lorgat's allegedly flawed financial model ultimately cost him his job. 

Moroe flexed his muscles as acting CEO and, under his leadership, CSA set about relaunching the tournament in 2018. Instead, the wheels have fallen off and this T20 journey looks destined to end a write-off.  

The tournament has been reduced from eight teams to six, a ground-breaking equity partnership with SuperSport was announced and then embarrassingly rescinded and, most importantly, we are still no closer to knowing how this competition will work or what it will look like. 

There are no owners, no host cities, no players, no fixtures, no broadcast deals, no sponsors and, to make matters worse, several of the previous owners have threatened legal action against CSA for how they were treated in the restructuring of the tournament. 

It would take a small miracle for Moroe and CSA to pull this off from here. 

A final decision will be made by mid-September at the latest, but that is only three weeks away and there is simply too much to do in too little time. 

Looking at where the Lorgat administration was at this time, last year helps put things into perspective. 

While the Global League had its own concerns, it had still ticked some very important boxes by now.

The owners of all eight franchises had been unveiled (seven of them were foreign) and all had committed to pumping money into the communities of their host cities.

A player draft had also secured some major names in the cricketing world with AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, Brendon McCullum, Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard the headliners. 

There was also a full, confirmed fixture list. 

Sadly, the 2018 model is yet to get out of first gear.

The Global League has proved to be nothing but a headache for CSA since the very beginning, and there is no immediate remedy in sight.

On Monday afternoon, CSA received another blow when it was confirmed that Sunfoil had ended its seven-year long partnership as a major sponsor of the sport in the country. 

Sunfoil had taken ownership of all home Test matches as well as the domestic four-day competition; a major relief to CSA given the global struggles of the game’s longest formats.

Now, with a month to go until the start of the 2018/19 domestic season, CSA has only one title sponsor for its three premium domestic competitions. 

Momentum will continue backing the 50-over tournament, but the four-day competition as well as the domestic T20 tournament, formerly called the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge, go in without any major funding. 

CSA say they are at advanced stages in securing a replacement for Sunfoil. 

Time will tell if that is the case, but it doesn't detract from the fact that the new leadership under Moroe is in a hot mess. 

Somewhere, Lorgat must be sitting feet up, watching this disaster unfold one sorry chapter at a time. 

Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...

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