Newly-elected acting president Willie Basson said on Wednesday that his aim as the new head of Cricket South Africa (CSA) was to improve the standard of the administration so that it rivalled the professionalism of the national team on the field.
Basson was elected on Saturday to take over from AK Khan, who was also an acting president before resigning last week in the wake of the Nicholson Inquiry which found CSA chief executive Gerald Majola had “surreptitiously” received 1.8 million rand ($237,000) in unauthorised bonuses from the Indian Premier League, as well as irregular travel expenses, in contravention of the Companies Act.
Khan had headed CSA’s own investigation which cleared Majola of any serious wrongdoing, but which was subsequently described as a “cover-up” by the Nicholson Inquiry.
“A personal motivation for my decision to become involved is a long-standing concern for the large gap between the level of professionalism of the on-field activities as opposed to the off-field activities. This gap is a burning issue. In 40 years of being involved in sport, I’ve never come to terms with how much the players sacrifice but administrators, in general, just bumble along and hardly ever face any consequences, except when they’re up for re-election every two years. It’s a major irritation for me, this obvious weakness has to be aggressively addressed and we have to raise the bar.
“The time has come for those responsible for guiding and executing off-the-field activities to have better game plans, executed more effectively and efficiently,” Basson told a news conference in Centurion on Wednesday.
Having suspended Majola pending an independent disciplinary inquiry as per the recommendations of the Nicholson Inquiry, Basson said the CSA board would now place Judge Chris Nicholson’s other main edict – that the governing body should undergo a review of its corporate structure – in the hands of experts.
“The mere fact that we have acknowledged the Nicholson report and accepted it in principle, means we have laid the foundation to appoint competent people to look at a re-invented cricket system. But it’s essentially a legal document and we need to translate it in the light of practicalities for a sports system, so that it leads to an improvement in the administration of the game,” Basson said.
The veteran cricket administrator was previously the chairman of CSA’s transformation committee and he said this would be a key focus in his term.
“In the light of the minister of sport’s recent comments on the status of transformation in the country’s major sporting codes, it will be a high priority item. The board has recently in principle approved a model that will be considered by the transformation committee tomorrow [Thursday]. A fund to support transformation initiatives at provincial level has also been established and is the first in the country,” Basson said.
Basson said restoring the battered image of CSA would also be one of the board’s areas of focus.
“The complex process of damage control of CSA’s reputation and image on the basis of systematic and on-going communication with stakeholders will be an important focus area. CSA is under no illiusion … cricket is beleagured and its image and reputation have been dented over an extended period of time. Image is any organisation’s biggest asset and the process will require cool heads. We have to pinpoint where our image has been harmed and the reasons for the negative public opinion,” Basson said.