It can only be a vote of confidence when one of South Africa’s financial powerhouses agrees to become your national team sponsor – across all three formats – particularly when they parted ways with you just six years previously because of misgovernance and the way they were treated, so Cricket South Africa had reason to celebrate this week and reflect on how far they have come in terms of corporate governance.
It’s the first time one sponsor has been found for all three teams, the Test, ODI and T20 outfits, and the four-year deal will allow just one name on all the replica shirts CSA sells. The fact that it is no longer an alcoholic brand on the shirt also allows huge numbers of people to now buy them whereas in the past their religious beliefs precluded them from wearing that logo, so there will be a sizeable financial benefit there as well.
It’s some much-needed good news for the Proteas in what has been a tough year for them. CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat optimistically said at the sponsorship announcement that he believes the slide down the international rankings is only temporary.
“These have been tough times but I’m sure the team will provide the desired returns for Standard Bank. I believe they are still a world-class team despite the poor recent results. I think it’s just a blip for a team that is still in transition.
“We believe the system will still provide great players, especially after the three reviews we are currently running – into the domestic structure, a relaunched T20 league and the national team set-up, especially why the Proteas keep falling short at the final hurdle in major global tournaments,” Lorgat said.
Transformation is still a major issue for CSA – some of my sources tell me that the reason for the sudden postponement of the initial Standard Bank announcement was that the sponsor wanted a transformation clause inserted into the contract, others have denied this – and the dissatisfaction of sports minister Fikile Mbalula, however obxnoxious he is being, is a threat to their future plans.
There is a meeting on Saturday between CSA and Mbalula, and this is going to be a crucial sit-down to see if they can iron out the differences that were exposed by the minister’s shock announcement on April 25 that he was implementing punitive measures against the union.
“The unparalelled support that we enjoy – as Temba Bavuma approached his debut Test century at Newlands there were 10 million TV viewers for the first time – shows that we can be very proud of our transformation initiatives that are bearing fruit. We know the minister of sport is not satisfied with certain areas, but we will engage him. We strongly believe that transformation has to happen from the bottom up and we firmly believe that we need it for strategic reasons.
“It’s fair to say that we were caught by surprise by what the minister had to say, but we will meet this Saturday and I’m confident we will come to an understanding. Transformation is about more than targets, it covers our entire business. We are clear that it must be from the bottom up, but we need resources and support from government, in particular the departments of sport and recreation and basic education. It will be the only way to sustain our business into the future, never mind our moral obligations,” Lorgat said.
Apart from the poor corporate governance of the previous CSA administration, Standard Bank were also chased away in 2010 by the frustrating fashion in which they were treated by certain CSA staff, who did not seem to care that these were the people investing in their sport and paying a large proportion of their salaries at the end of the day. Fortunately that culture is long gone at CSA.
From the media’s perspective, we had some rip-roaring times with Standard Bank and it is with delight that we welcome them back into the pressboxes around the country.