Cricket South Africa today is no more than an employment bureau with very little respect for standards, outcomes and being cost effective.
They recently announced through the media that they have 64 employees of which 52 are black. This was part of an ad hoc media release on their transformation success at staff levels when they found themselves under pressure from both the government and public. This number excludes expensive consultants that they also make use of, and all the employees in the 13 provinces.
Reading this media release took me down memory lane to 1984 when I was appointed the first full-time employee of the Griqualand West Cricket Union, today called Northern Cape. I was the second full-time administrator appointed in South African cricket after Dr Ali Bacher, who about three months earlier had been appointed as Managing Director of the Transvaal Cricket Council, today called the Gauteng Cricket Board. On my appointment, I did not receive a job description or key performance indicators as is the norm today. I was left to develop and plot my own path. That is when I realised that to run a sport like cricket you need entrepreneurial skills and leadership qualities, not degrees or some tertiary qualification as is required today.
I decided that a good place to start in my new position would be to introduce myself to the Secretary of the South African Cricket Union (SACU), Charles Fortune, who was based at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg. On making the appointment, I was told that he would be happy to meet me but the meeting would have to take place between 09h00 and 12h00 as he did not work in the afternoons. On arrival at the Wanderers offices, I found that only four people ran South African cricket: Fortune (full-time Secretary), Mrs Ambler Smith (Secretary), Trish Lewis (Finances) and Bob Karvik, a retired gentlemen who worked for nothing because of his love for the game.
It certainly was a different era but cricket was big in the country in those days. There was international cricket in the form of the so called “rebel tours”, and three high profile and well-supported domestic competitions in the Currie Cup (first-class cricket), the Nissan Shield (50 overs) and the very popular Benson & Hedges night series (45 overs). Also, each province had a “B” team that played in the Bowl competition; it enjoyed first-class status and was administered by SACU. There was also schools cricket, like the Nuffield U.19 Week, the PG Bison U.15 Week and the Perm U.13 Week, that was administered by volunteers but fell under the control of SACU.
When CSA appoint a new Management Board and Chief Executive Officer, the first matter that needs to be addressed is the full-time staff compliment and operational structure with the help of a Human Resources consultant. They need to develop a structure that is efficient, cost-effective and has the passion to serve cricket.