| Cricket’s revival won’t come from administrators, says Graeme Smith

  • Graeme Smith has made a thinly veiled suggestion that CSA’s current leadership can’t take the local game forward.
  • CSA’s director of cricket believes in a back-to-basics approach in winning the hearts and minds of the general public again.
  • The local game’s habit of getting in its own way is also hampering the already tricky drive of getting outside investment.

Graeme Smith, his view probably heavily influenced by Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) current administrative malaise, has suggested that the federation’s current leadership won’t drive the local game’s progress.

Asked by prominent financial journalist Bruce Whitfield, host of PSG’s Think Big webinar series, what and who can be expected to help cricket recapture the public’s imagination, he said bluntly: “It’s not going to come from an administrator, I can tell you that.”

“Anyone on the business side of sport needs to get that right, to make sure that the money flows so that we can invest back into grassroots initiatives that are so hugely important.

“But the only way we’re going to get that going is if our national teams are representative of the country and are high performing. We need to win series, create heroes and tell great stories,” he added.

There was indeed a distinct tone of just getting the basics right again, something CSA is seemingly struggling with following the resignations of Chris Nenzani as president and Jacques Faul as acting chief executive.

It leaves the federation with an acting chair in Beresford Williams – himself under pressure from various constituents – before 5 September’s AGM, while Kugandrie Govender, current chief commercial officer, is the acting CEO as CSA continues to dither in dealing with the suspended Thabang Moroe.

“It’s about playing again, get teams performing and connect with fans. Leadership is obviously required, I’m at operational level but it’s at board level where people sit with a lot of important decisions,” said Smith.

“They can provide the direction. You sit sometimes and hope: ‘Please just get it done, get it right so that we can all just progress’. I’m hoping over the next few months that takes shape and that we’ll have a clear direction as to how we can get cricket to win hearts and minds again. Get our players back in the headlines and celebrate.”

Introspection and decisive action are vital but progress also requires outside money. 

And it’s not only about Covid-19.

“Covid has hit corporates and business extensively,” said Smith.

“Finding people that have the money to spend is very challenging. You want to be putting out the right stories. You want the people who want to be associated with your brand want to be proud to be there. That’s what we’ve got to create. We’ve got to clean up the game.

“The money that gets invested into growing the game and transformation and the development of the game – those are the stories you want to be making headlines. But I think cricket gets in its own way too often.

“Whether it’s people finding themselves in the wrong position at the right time or bad decision-making, or egos that get into positions of power, it’s unfortunate and it takes away from the beauty of our sport.”     

– Compiled by Heinz Schenk

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