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Ken Borland

Can John & Co really stop cricket from being flushed down the toilet? 0

Posted on June 28, 2021 by Ken

John Mogodi of Limpopo, Daniel Govender of KZN, Craig Nel of Mpumalanga, Tebogo Siko of Northerns and Simphiwe Ndzundza of Border are the people elected by the Cricket South Africa Members Council, the body that pushed the sport in this country to the edge of the precipice before eventually seeing some sense, to the new Board that will run cricket.

Of those five, it is fair to say Nel and Siko are the only two who have not been opposed to the efforts of the Interim Board and, by extension, the sports minister, to rescue cricket from being flushed down the toilet. While that reflects on the embarrassing quality of leadership on the Members Council, it is a relief that the new Board appointed this week will be dominated by eight independent directors and there is plenty of leadership, financial and legal expertise and governance experience amongst that lot.

Andrew Hudson, whose post-playing career has been centred on the banking world, is the only director with top-level cricket experience and it perhaps would have been nice if more former players had been appointed.

And the lack of female representation is an even bigger blot on the Board. Independent director Ntambi Ravele and acting chief financial officer Christelle Janse van Rensburg are the only two women out of a board of 15, and that’s even after sports minister Nathi Mthethwa made it clear that he wanted to see a greater push towards gender equality.

It is typical of the double-speak nature of the Members Council that president Rihan Richards should speak of their full commitment to greater female representation and then, when the vote was tied for the fifth non-independent director’s post between Anne Vilas and Simphiwe Ndzundzu, they chose the man.

And Ndzundzu is not just any man. He is president of one of the most dysfunctional provinces on and off the field, and someone who is being investigated over a charge of assault involving the elderly mother of a colleague he had a dispute with as well as a broken arm for his rival’s sister.

And Vilas is not just any woman. Acknowledged as one of the best administrators in South African cricket and very successful in business, as president of Central Gauteng Lions she has overseen their rise to arguably the best team in the country.

So it is fair to say that there will still be small pockets of resistance to progress in South African cricket, but hopefully our cricketing family can start to heal. CSA has been a dysfunctional organisation and the events of the last few years have demoralised so many people involved in the game. Good leadership was replaced by an environment of suspicion.

Hopefully this new Board can bring some much-needed stability after their predecessors did so much to kill the hopes and dreams of young cricket fans. Critical to that becoming a reality is for the right person to be elected chair of the Board and also whoever represents CSA at the International Cricket Council requires much thought.

It’s been a depressing time for those cricket lovers looking for moral leadership as the CSA Board and incompetent Members Council were captured by vested interests and a downright crooked culture developed in the running of the game. But this new, majority independent board will hopefully ensure good governance.

Cricket’s governance issues have, without a doubt, affected the on-field performance of the men’s national team as well, but after a lean period, the victory in the first Test against the West Indies provided some encouraging signs that the Proteas might just be regaining their mojo.

So let the healing begin, and thank you to the six members of the Interim Board for their top-class work which saw their vital task through to completion, shouldering a massive burden in the process.

Talent meeting opportunity at the root of development 0

Posted on May 10, 2017 by Ken


Gift Ngoepe has been making headlines this week, giving South African baseball a rare moment in the sun, and his incredible story just goes to prove that talent meeting opportunity should be at the root of all transformation or development efforts in this country.

Ngoepe became the first ever player born in Africa to play Major League Baseball when he turned out for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Chicago Cubs, the World Series champions, and made a single in his first at-bat, showing his ability as his hit registered the highest velocity off the bat in the whole game, and he then played a part in the double-play that ended the contest and sealed a thrilling 6-5 win for his team.

As is so often the case, nobody could have guessed what talent Ngoepe possessed for the quintessential American game. It was opportunity that unlocked the door and changed his life, leading to him becoming a tremendous role-model for all the less privileged people with sporting dreams in South Africa.

That opportunity came in the most extraordinary, and yet typical, South African way. His mother just happened to be employed as the cleaner at the national baseball headquarters in Randburg and Gift and his younger brother Victor, who plays in the Gulf Coast minor league, stayed with her in a little room on the premises.

Given the opportunity to have a go at this strange sport that is so foreign to most people on the continent, Ngoepe’s talent rapidly became obvious.

Of course there is a gap of several years between that and making history this week, filled with sacrifice, perseverance and a determination to fulfil his dreams. The joy of becoming the sixth South African and the first Black African to sign a professional baseball contract in 2008 gave way to the hard work of spending nine years in the minor leagues.

The magnitude of his achievement and the character of the man is shown by the reaction of both his team-mates and the Cubs to Ngoepe’s special day.

He was warmly greeted by his team-mates when he came on to field at second base and his single was wildly celebrated in the Pirates’ dugout, with chants of “For the Motherland!” and there were tears all round. The Cubs rolled the ball used for the single into the opposition dugout so Ngoepe could keep it as a memento.

The wonderful story of Ngoepe is in stark contrast to the other big sporting news item of the week, the almost certain demise of Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Once the number one ranked bowler in international limited-overs cricket, Tsotsobe is the latest player to be charged in the corruption web that began with the machinations of Gulam Bodi.

The story of Tsotsobe features all the talent and even more opportunity than Ngoepe’s. The left-arm paceman comes from a well-off family in the Eastern Cape with strong sporting links, his sister Nomsebenzi being a former captain of the national women’s rugby team.

Tsotsobe had all the backing and opportunity in the world, but he lacked the work ethic and determination that so clearly drives Ngoepe. Conditioning, which is really just about hard work, was always a problem for Tsotsobe, and eventually the Proteas management lost patience with him.

Seduced by the bright lights and a glitzy lifestyle, it was perhaps inevitable that Tsotsobe would ultimately fall victim to the lure of easy money.

And yet there are current rising stars like Andile Phehlukwayo and Lungi Ngidi, who stand poised on the edge of stellar international careers having risen above similarly disadvantaged childhoods as Ngoepe, both being the sons of domestic workers.

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    Every day offers the opportunity for doing a kind deed or speaking an encouraging word to someone who feels overwhelmed.

    Our exuberant joy about God’s goodness to us should cause us to throw ourselves enthusiastically into serving others.

    But be sensitive to the needs of others, enrich their lives through love and kindness. Giving yourself in love and service to others is the duty of all those who love Christ and serve him with sincere hearts.

    Don’t brood over lost opportunities, instead make a definite decision to do better today and tomorrow. Use every opportunity in his strength!

    You will find God’s purpose for your life as you serve others!

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