CSA say SACA dispute behind administrators' suspensions

CSA Head of Cricket Pathways,Corrie Van Zyl during the CSA media briefing at CSA Head Office on April 12, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
CSA Head of Cricket Pathways,Corrie Van Zyl during the CSA media briefing at CSA Head Office on April 12, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Cricket SA say the latest impasse in their fractious relationship with the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) is why they suspended three senior staff members.

But insiders regard that explanation with suspicion.

Asked whether a rat should be smelled‚ one well-placed source said the reporter had “an immaculate sense of smell”.

SowetanLIVE broke the news on Tuesday that interim director of cricket Corrie van Zyl‚ sponsor and sales head Clive Eksteen and chief operating officer Naasei Appiah had been removed from their positions.

Van Zyl confirmed that as fact but declined to comment further.

Eksteen and Appiah did not respond meaningfully.

A CSA release on Wednesday said the organisation had “recently become aware of an unfortunate situation involving players and player contracts‚ through player intermediary [SACA] in which speculation and indeed allegations of dereliction were levelled against CSA‚ following alleged non-payment of player fees‚ stemming from the Mzansi Super League [MSL] arrangement‚ in 2018”.

SACA lodged a formal dispute last Wednesday over the failure by CSA to pay R2.4-million into their players’ trust — the terms of the contract the player body signed with CSA for the use of their commercial rights for the MSL.

“CSA is in the process of investigating this matter to determine the extent to which certain CSA employees were or were not derelict in fulfilling their duties‚” the release said.

“This is in line with the effort of ensuring that the principle of accountability is applied equally‚ fairly and without fear or favour throughout the organisation.

“Whilst the investigation of this matter is in progress employees who are alleged to have been involved in this matter have been placed on precautionary suspension until the investigation is completed‚ following which disciplinary action could be instituted against the affected employees.”

The move has taken significant experience out of CSA’s knowledge bank at a time when the organisation can least afford it.

Van Zyl and Eksteen played for South Africa‚ and Van Zyl coached the national men’s team before being appointed CSA’s general manager for cricket in December 2011.

Appiah arrived at CSA in October 2010 as chief financial officer.

Beleaguered by legal battles on three fronts‚ awash with interim appointments‚ and embroiled in a transformation squabble over the Cobras’ decision to field only two black Africans — instead of the target of three — in their four-day match against the Warriors at Newlands this week‚ CSA can ill afford another scandal.

That’s especially true with the national men’s Test team still under the cloud of their worst performance in a series in 83 years.

Faf du Plessis side were beaten 3-0 in India‚ the last two losses suffered by an innings.

The last time South Africa were as heavily defeated was by Australia in March 1936.

Eksteen‚ who joined CSA in October 2015 as their commercial manager‚ has been in trouble with his bosses before.

During the St George’s Park Test in March last photographs of him posing with fans trying to antagonise David Warner by wearing Sonny Bill Williams face masks emerged on social media.

Before she was involved with Warner‚ the Australian’s wife‚ the then Candice Falzon‚ had a brief but well publicised liaison with All Blacks star Williams.

That saga‚ which prompted the resignation of then communications head Altaaf Kazi‚ who was also in the photograph‚ was seen as part of an alleged effort to rid CSA of figures not in the dominant camp.

The same scenario unfolded in September 2017‚ when Haroon Lorgat left his position as chief executive over what CSA said was his poor handling of arrangements for the T20 Global League‚ which became the MSL.

The current controversy is laced with similar undertones‚ with figures within the game fearing the drama is an attempt to clear the decks of opposition to the powers that be.

Even so‚ the fate of Van Zyl and Appiah is surprising.

Van Zyl has seemed central to powerful chief executive Thabang Moroe’s brave new direction for CSA‚ while Appiah is a long-time Moroe ally.

But insiders say Moroe and Appiah had an alleged fallout about two months ago.

SACA‚ the players’ trade union‚ are in the throes of a high court action against CSA for plans to restructure the domestic system than could see 70 players lose their jobs‚ and will no doubt have taken note of being downgraded in Wednesday’s release to a mere “player intermediary”.

The Western Province Cricket Association are also in CSA’s queue of court cases‚ having sought an interdict against the latter for their decision to put the province’s board under administration.

At some point‚ surely‚ CSA will be fighting more fires than they could possibly put out.

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