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Ken Borland

Cricket SA’s new CEO just loves the game … and feels responsible for it 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

What strikes you most when chatting to Cricket South Africa’s CEO Pholetsi Moseki is that this man just loves the game so much and also feels he has a responsibility to it, which explains why he stuck it out through the organisation’s most problematic years.

Moseki first joined CSA in July 2019 as their chief financial officer. By the end of that year, the organisation was in an administrative shambles and Moseki found himself fulfilling various extra roles until he was ultimately appointed acting chief executive in December 2020, succeeding the likes of Jacques Faul and the shortlived Kugandrie Govender.

CSA then made that appointment permanent, on a five-year deal, in March this year, a decision which, by all accounts, is a popular one with the staff and the organisation’s stakeholders.

“I was introduced to cricket in the mid-90s by my cousin and it was huge fun watching the Proteas back then. The beauty of it was being able to watch five days of cricket on SABC and Test cricket is still my favourite format,” Moseki told The Citizen.

“So when I joined CSA as their CFO, I felt I was doing something I love and the first three months were lovely. Then all the chaos started and I thought ‘What have you done?!’

“I don’t know how many times I was deciding whether to stay or go, but by the time I thought I should go, in late 2020, I was the only executive left and I felt a responsibility.

“I was the last man standing, but I was fond of the organisation and the people working there, and I love cricket. So for 18 months it was the sense of responsibility that kept me going.

“It’s not just about head office, there are 1800 people employed in our affiliates around the country. I did not want all of that to collapse so I committed to contributing to the rescue operation.

“It meant sometimes I was having three hours of sleep a day to do it, Graeme Smith had to step up and the staff as well, and I was extremely proud of their efforts.

“There were bullets flying all over, but we kept out heads down. We understood what was at stake. Cricket is not just a hobby, it pays for peoples’ school and medical fees,” Moseki said.

Apart from cricket, the chartered accountant says family are his other great passion.

“I was born and bred in Soweto and I went to school there until Standard 7, when my parents decided, with all the 90s chaos in the townships, to send me to school in the city centre of Johannesburg – St Endas College in Hillbrow.

“The only subject I really liked was accounting, maybe because I had a lovely teacher, young and pretty,” Moseki chuckled. “And then I did my CA through Unisa.

“I am married with a son who is 16 but believes he is in his 20s. They keep me sane and I am very close-knit with my siblings and my Dad is still around too.”

Having begun his working career as a Natal Building Society teller, he says a stint at Deutsche Bank was “when my ambition formed, investment banking was the place to be and it was the most amazing time of my life”.

Since then he has run his own consultancy and advisory businesses, as well as being a CFO at one of Denel’s divisions and, before joining CSA, at Magalies Water, which meant driving to Rustenburg every day.

Our cricket is in the hands of someone who not only knows how to count those all-important beans, but also how to grow and sustain them.

“Our new T20 competition is going to be key to our sustainability going forward. But like any new product, you don’t expect it to make money in the first few years.

“But if, after five to 10 years, we get 5% of the revenue the IPL is making, that would already be more than our current revenue. Our two previous editions cost us hundreds of millions of rand, but now we have a long-term plan with great partners like SuperSport.

“The nature of the cricket calendar means you’re always competing against someone’s T20 league, but we’re backing ourselves. In January people are still in holiday mode, the varsities haven’t opened yet.

“We need to get our fans’ hearts and souls back. We will make it the best we can and back our local market,” Moseki said.

Which is where the new partnership with Roc Nation comes in. The entertainment and events brand are experts at reaching urban youth and there is going to be a real focus on improving spectator experience and using digital to drive CSA’s vision for the game.

“New technology is absolutely important and digital is so crucial – the IPL has just sold their digital rights for $4 million per match, more than the TV rights. We don’t want to get left behind.

“We’re going to go big on our app, there are a lot of amazing things planned for that, linked to the sort of amazing stadium experiences you have in the U.S.

“It’s all about connectivity and over there you can order food on your app inside the stadium, book specific seats; the digital experience of the game is key.

“Over the next few years, there are going to be a lot of changes in South African cricket, and technology will be front and centre of that, to improve the stadium experience,” Moseki said.

But as Moseki beavers away in his Melrose Estate office, he knows that CSA’s most important property is the game. The cricket must come first.

“For the last two years we have not been focused on cricket but on everything else. It’s actually amazing that our Proteas teams and our staff and members are doing so well.

“But our attention needs to go back to cricket, developing more players, improving our relationships with our stakeholders and improving the stadium experience.

“We want to make sure we are the partner of choice and the employer of choice, and that our fans and the media want to come to our events,” Moseki stated.

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