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Ponderous Proteas still have bumpy road ahead

Cricket South Africa are aiming to break new ground in its first chapter with a majority-independent Board of Directors. Cricket SA's new Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) has laid the foundation for this new era of transition in the organisation, albeit CSA are still miles behind the pack – both on the field and off. Despite a successful tour away to West Indies, the Proteas are still far from their best.

Last month Cricket South Africa hosted its first AGM in two years. The meeting was scheduled for September, 2020 however in a statement released by CSA in August last year, SA's governing cricket council said it “needed to settle on the formulation and adoption of a comprehensive roadmap” before the AGM could happen. After several months of delay which featured interference by national government, the long-awaited and hotly-anticipated meeting which sought to determine the future of South African cricket at all levels eventually took place.

Speaking ahead of the overdue AGM, interim Board chair Dr Stavros Nicolaou asserted that he and his interim Board considerably tidied up the perils left by the previous Board and that the newly-formed Board would have strong foundations in place upon taking over. Nicolaou has described the new MOI as a 'world-class document'.

It was decided that no interim Board members were eligible to run for election onto the new Board of Directors.

Rihan Richards, president of Northern Cape Cricket, was unanimously elected as president of CSA while Eastern Province Cricket's Donovan May was elected vice-president, also unopposed.

Newly-elected president Richards said in his opening address that “We must continue to seek and promote what is right and let's remind ourselves that it's not about us but the game.

CSA's Members' Council (MC) consists of 14 provincial cricket union presidents, including Richards and his deputy May. The MC opted for neither its president nor vice- to serve on the Board as non-independent directors. According to Richards, speaking on behalf of the MC, this decision was made “to ensure a clear separation and distinction between the Members' Council and the Board.

The Nicholson Commission of Inquiry in 2012 recommended the CSA Board should be staffed by a majority of independent directors rather than stakeholders, in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest. Said Commission was established in response to the 2009 CSA bonus scandal surrounding former CEO Gerald Mojala who was suspended and later axed by the organisation in 2012 after being found guilty on all charges against him in relation to unapproved bonuses for several of CSA's executives at the time.

Ten years on from the Mojala fiasco and Cricket SA were all but forced to adopt Nicholson's recommendation of majority-independent directors into the structure of its Board, outlined in its newly-established MOI which also indicates that the chairperson should be an independent director as well.

Advocate Norman Arendse SC was appointed as the 8th independent director to the 15-strong Board. The MC originally objected to Arendse's appointment as an independent director due to his previous involvements on the Board, referring specifically to when he held the position of CSA president for two years beginning in 2007. Adv Arendse was also later appointed as an independent director in 2013 following the Nicholson Commission however Arendse has been given the all-clear as the final independent member of the new Board.

Lawson Naidoo was elected chair of the Audit, Governance and Risk Committee made up of four independent directors: Adv Steven Budlender SC, Dr Simo Lushaba, Mark Rayner, & Naidoo himself.

We are all well aware of the challenges facing us in making CSA a world-class sporting organisation both on and off the field off play.” said Naidoo, upon election as chairman of the Board.

Naidoo has also admitted that it is imperative for the Board to appoint a permanent CEO in addition to other senior executives.

Cricket SA Board of Directors

Independent Members:

Adv Norman Arendse SC, Adv Steven Budlender SC (Lead Director),

Andrew Hudson, Dr Simo Lushaba,

Lawson Naidoo (Chairman),

Andisa Ntsubane, Muditambi Ravele, Mark Rayner.

Non-independent members:

Daniel Govender (President, KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union),

Christelle Janse van Rensburg (Acting CFO),

John Mogodi (ex-President, Limpopo Impala Cricket),

Pholetsi Mseki (Acting CEO),

Simphiwe Ndzundzu (President, Border Cricket),

Craig Nel (President, Mpumalanga Cricket Union),

Tebogo Siko (President, Northerns Cricket Union).

The new Board have a mountain of challenges ahead of them, not to mention a gargantuan pile of legal proceedings notably involving sponsors as well as cases against former executive officers of CSA. In their bid to cleanse a toxic work environment, CSA suspended company secretary Welsh Gwaza and acting CEO Kugandrie Govender towards the end of last year. Last month CSA dismissed Gwaza following his 6-month suspension, with the ex-company secretary found guilty of misconduct within the Fundudzi Forensic Report that investigated Cricket SA's administrative activities during 2016-19. Proceedings against Govender are yet to be completed, also on grounds of alleged misconduct.

Ex-CEO Thabang Moroe, central to the entire controversy surrounding CSA, was sacked last August following a 9-month paid suspension amidst the implications against him as per the Fundudzi report.

Last week, the South African cricketing community was struck with devastating news that stalwart Goolam Rajah passed away aged 74 following Covid-related complications. In context of the Proteas, Rajah is best-known for serving as team and logistics manager from 1991 (when SA was readmitted to international cricket) until he retired upon the team's exit from the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup. The Proteas played over 600 matches under Rajah's jurisdiction with the national team which spanned two decades. Known affectionately to his colleagues as 'Goolie', Rajah was also an honourary life vice-president of the Gauteng Central Lions.

Several paid tribute to Rajah including new chairman of the CSA Board, Lawson Naidoo as well as acting chief executive Pholetsi Mseki and Director of cricket Graeme Smith. Smith captained the side for the final 8 years of Rajah's stint as team manager and had the following to say in tribute to Rajah: Goolam was a true father figure who looked after the players like his own. He took care of everything with such detail that the players were able to focus totally on cricket and that was why his tenure was so successful”.

Moving over to on-field matters, the Proteas have been determined to up the ante and to restore winning ways to their arsenal following a humbling defeat on home terrain to Pakistan in April. Pakistan claimed the 3-match ODI series, 2-1, before they trampled hosts SA in the 4-legged T20I series in which the Shaheens emerged 3-1 winners.

It was also around April that some of SA's stars jetted off for the latest Indian Premier League season, albeit the tournament was duly interrupted by the ongoing pandemic for a second year running. It has been announced that the unfinished IPL 2021 is due to be completed not in India but rather in the UAE similarly to last year. Dates for the resumption of the competition are yet to be declared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

South Africa most recently concluded a tour of the Caribbean which featured two test matches and three T20I's versus the West Indies. In the first of two tests at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in Saint Lucia, the hosts won the toss and Kraigg Braithwaite opted to bat first.

SA's seam bowlers restricted the Windies to a dour total of 97; Lungi Ngidi took a five-for at the expense of just 19 runs and Anrich Nortjie claimed 4/35.

In his first innings since being named as SA's new test captain, Dean Elgar scored a duck and was removed inside the opening over. Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen added valuable runs to the scoreboard with respective knocks of 60 and 46. Ex-skipper Quinton de Kock batted no.6 and scored a stellar 141 not out – his 6th test century – which steered the Proteas to a 225-run lead over the men in maroon.

SA enforced the follow-on and the Windies' 2nd innings was more or less the same as their first. Proteas pace bowlers once again inflicted the damage as both West Indies' openers Braithwaite and Keiran Powell were trapped lbw by Kagiso Rabada. Batsman Roston Chase was the hosts' best glimmer of hope with his 62 runs – the only West Indian to score above 20 runs in their 2nd innings. Rabada went on to claim his first five-wicket haul since March 2018 while Nortjie grabbed another 3 scalps to take his match figures to 7/81 in 25 overs.

South Africa bowled out West Indies for 162 to win the first test match by an innings and 63 runs.

The second test match was greeted with intermittent rainfall. Braithwaite once again won the toss and this time sent the visitors in to bat first. Elgar seized a more glaring knock in the middle with 77 runs, notching his 17th international test half-century in the process. Unfortunately for the skipper a handful of his teammates did not pull their weight as Markram, vd Dussen & Keegan Petersen all departed for single-figure scores; SA were 124/4 when the talismanic de Kock made way to the crease. de Kock stepped up to the plate and smashed 96 runs to see the Proteas to a total of 298 all out.

Rabada removed Windies captain Braithwaite on the very first ball of their 1st innings, caught behind by de Kock. Elgar was adept in adjusting his field and his Proteas side created plenty of catching opportunities, with 8 out of 10 wickets being caught – five of which by either de Kock or his slips Elgar & Markram. None of West Indies' batsmen scored above 50 runs.

In comparison to the first test, there was a greater collective effort by SA's bowling unit as Rabada, Ngidi and spin bowler Keshav Maharaj all took 2 wickets apiece, and Nortjie claimed one. Wiaan Mulder took 3 wickets for just 1 run in 4 overs. West Indies all out for 149 – exactly half of SA's tally.

SA’s 2nd innings could barely have gotten off to a worse start with Markram sent back to the showers in the opening over before the Proteas found themselves 7 wickets down for just 73 runs. vd Dussen was the most significant scorer with 75 and Rabada chipped in with a steady knock of 40. SA were bowled out for 174 to set the hosts a target of 324 runs for victory.

West Indies once more struggled to find their feet whilst batting, as six of their batsmen were dismissed for scores of less than 10. Powell top scored with 51 runs but it was insufficient in the home team's bid to level the series as SA saw out a 158-run victory to seal a 2-0 series win over their West Indian counterparts and retain the Sir Vivian Richards Trophy.

Maharaj picked up 5 wickets including a sumptuous hat-trick in the 37th over which completely dismantled the opposition. Rabada ended the 2nd innings with figures of 3/44 from 16 overs, to see the 26-year-old seamer wrap up the 2nd test with match figures of 5/68 in 29 overs.

The Proteas' series win slightly elevated them in the ICC World Test Championship rankings as South Africa finished in 5th place with a win percentage of 43% from their five test series‘ over the past 24 months. SA scored victories over Sri Lanka and West Indies, and incurred losses to India, England and Pakistan.

Upon launching the competition in July, 2019 the ICC announced that all 9 nations involved in the WTC were each to play against six others – comprising of three home tours and three away.

The global pandemic has meant that only four teams managed to complete all of the proposed six series' – namely each of India, England, Sri Lanka & West Indies. New Zealand and South Africa both played five series', and Australia completed four.

New Zealand were crowned the first-ever ICC World Test Champions after they defeated India in the one-off test match Final.

SA and West Indies switched the red ball for white as they battled a five-part T20I series in Grenada. Despite being defending champions of the ICC World Twenty20, the Windies currently find themselves ranked as low as 9th in the ICC T20 rankings, behind the likes of Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. SA currently occupy 6th spot.

In the first T20 between the two nations, WI won the toss and elected to field first. vd Dussen made 56 not out and made the most impactful contribution for SA who reached 160/6 in their 20 overs.

Windies opening batsman Evin Lewis smacked 71 off 35 deliveries which guided his team to an 8-wicket victory. Lewis was named player of the match.

The second T20 saw Keiron Pollard win the toss and he again opted for his team to chase. Reeza Hendricks (42) and skipper Temba Bavuma (46) were SA's highest scorers as the men in green and gold scored 166/7.

West Indies could not dig deep enough to double their advantage in the series as SA won by 16 runs. Rabada took 3/37.

The third T20 had Pollard win the coin toss for the third contest in a row and again sent SA in to bat first. In his 50th T20 wearing national colours, de Kock put in a heroic shift as he scored 72 runs from 51 deliveries before Dwayne Bravo removed him in the 18th over. SA posted 167/8.

Four WI batsmen scored 20+ but it did not suffice as the visitors crawled away with a slender 1-run win after the encounter went down to the very last ball.

SA took the series lead for the first time.

In the fourth and penultimate T20I, Bavuma won his first toss in the series and returned the favour by choosing Pollard's maroon army to bat first. Before play commenced, however, there was inclement weather in and around the National Cricket Stadium in St George's.

After play got underway, WI limited-overs skipper Pollard hit five 6s on his way to recording a 6th T20I half-century, scoring 51 not out. Opening batsmen Lendl Simmons added 47 runs to WI's total of 167/6.

Not for the first time, SA were too reliant on the brilliance of de Kock. The hard-hitting left-handed opener struck 60 runs, 40 more than SA's next top scorer Markram.

Six SA batsmen failed to score double figures as Pollard & Co. claimed victory by 21 runs to level the series at 2-2. Pollard was named POTM.

In the fifth and final T20, Bavuma won the toss and elected to bat first. The skipper lasted only 3 deliveries before he was back in the dugout. de Kock again delivered with a further 60 runs while Markram hit four 6s and three 4s before going out in the 17th over for a score of 70 (his best effort in T20I cricket). SA posted 168/4.

Lewis made 52 runs and Shimron Hetmyer 33 but no other Windies batsmen came to the party as they could only salvage a score of 143/9 in 20 overs.

SA won by 25 runs and completed a 3-2 triumph in the series. Markram was given player of the match for his knock of 70.

SA failed to score above 170 runs in all five limited-overs clashes with the Windies, a worrying stat considering a competition as prestigious as the T20 World Cup is approaching. Despite this, Boucher deemed the series win as a huge morale booster leading up to the showpiece event later this year.

Boucher claimed a first series win as Proteas head coach since his appointment in December 2019, after overseeing his side suffer five successive defeats, four of those on South African soil.

Bavuma also celebrated a first series victory as captain.

Prior to the T20 World Cup, the Proteas next embark on a limited-overs tour of Ireland comprising of three One-Day Internationals commencing 11 July, followed by a three-match T20I series scheduled to get underway on 19 July and conclude 5 days later.

Head coach Boucher believes that the trip to Ireland presents an opportunity for players to rediscover their form.

One-day tours dominate international cricket in the build-up to the T20 World Cup in October. Reigning T20 champions West Indies welcome Australia to the Caribbean while India tour Sri Lanka, and England are due to host Pakistan.

The World Cup was originally to be staged in Australia last year but was postponed in response to the pandemic. It was first shifted to India albeit the worrisome Covid situation in the subcontinent has seen the competition relocated to UAE & Oman.

Australia will host the succeeding edition in 2022.

The late Goolam Rajah (1946-2021)
The Proteas retain the Sir Vivian Richards Trophy

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