Cricket SA‚ SACA back from the brink with interim agreement

Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Thabang Moroe (L) alongside president Chris Nenzani.
Cricket South Africa acting chief executive Thabang Moroe (L) alongside president Chris Nenzani.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) came back from the brink of disaster on Thursday‚ but the game in this country isn’t yet out of the woods.

The organisations agreed on an interim memorandum of understanding (MOU) that heads off‚ for now‚ the crisis that has loomed for months with the current MOU set to expire on Monday.

“The short-term arrangement will allow the player contracting process to go ahead for the coming contract year‚” a joint CSA and SACA release said on Thursday.

The release said that the June 30 had been set as the “bull’s eye deadline” when “MOU18 [which will be in place for four years] should be finalised with set dates in May and June for negotiations meetings”.

A commitment to “negotiating a recognition agreement to regulate the ongoing relationship between” CSA and SACA has been made.

National and franchise players have been awarded “an interim increase of 6%”‚ but that may rise in the formal agreement.

Importantly‚ considering the noises to the contrary CSA have made in recent months‚ the board have “committed to maintaining a revenue share model with the players‚ details of which will be finalised as part of the MOU18”.

What that agreement will look like has not been revealed‚ but it will be unusually carefully scrutinised by the players — whose confidence in the incumbent administrators to run cricket competently has been rocked by the debacle that the postponed Global T20 League has become.

Thursday’s release took us no closer to that truth: “It is intended that the MOU18 will establish the longer term financial arrangements necessary to underpin the national and franchise player contracts on a sustainable basis for the next four to five years.

"It will also deal with a wide range of player matters‚ relating to their employment and their careers as professional cricketers.

"Many of these will be similar to the arrangements under the MOU14.”

But SACA chief executive Tony Irish voiced guarded approval for the progress made so far in the comments attributed to him in the release.

“We are satisfied that this interim agreement addresses the uncertainty that has existed amongst players regarding the MOU and their contracts and it ensures that no national or franchise player in the system going forward is left without a contract come May 1‚ 2018‚” Irish was quoted as saying.

“The interim agreement also contains commitments to key issues outside the player contracts and commits the parties to further structured negotiation over a two-month period which aims to finalise the full ambit of player benefits‚ and other player relevant matters‚ to apply over the longer‚ four to five-year term of the MOU18.”

CSA acting chief executive Thabang Moroe sounded a more conciliatory tone on the issue than he has lately.

“There is still a long way to go in these negotiations but CSA and SACA have both acted in the best interests of the game by setting a clear platform needed to jointly and constructively get this done within a two-month period‚” Moroe was quoted as saying.

With that‚ one of the biggest obstacles to South Africa living up to their potential at next year’s World Cup was at least temporarily removed.

South Africa will play England in the opening match of the tournament at The Oval on May 30 and will end the round-robin stage against Australia at Old Trafford on July 6.

Unusually and controversially for World Cups‚ cricket has chosen to shrink the number of teams playing in its global white-ball showpiece from 14 to 10 teams.

“It is probably the most open World Cup‚” an International Cricket Council release quoted South Africa’s Chris Morris as saying.

“It depends what teams are peaking at the right time‚ but there is always an upset at a World Cup and you will always remember them.

“One individual can take a game of cricket away on the day‚ [and] it will be very interesting to play against teams that some guys have not played against and new players that have never been seen coming onto the big stage.”

South Africa World Cup fixtures:

May 30: England‚ The Oval

June 2: Bangladesh‚ The Oval

June 5: India‚ Hampshire Bowl

June 10: West Indies‚ Hampshire Bowl

June 15: Afghanistan‚ Cardiff

June 19: New Zealand‚ Edgbaston

June 23: Pakistan‚ Lord’s

June 28: Sri Lanka‚ The Riverside

July 6: Australia‚ Old Trafford

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