A dose of vitriol
There were two moments during Norman Arendse's hour-long resignation press conference that best summed up the complexities of the man. The first came right at the end, when having bad-mouthed South African cricket for the majority of his time in front of the microphones, he concluded by saying: "But I didn't come here to bad-mouth South African cricket."
The second had come a few moments earlier, in a single word, "yes". Having accused several unnamed former colleagues of "lacking any integrity at all" and suggesting that his position had been undermined because "financial inducements in the form of Twenty20 international fixtures and the awarding of franchises" had been used to "buy" the votes of one-time allies, he was asked whether a senior advocate with over 20 years experience in the law (himself) could make such damning accusations of corruption based on mere hearsay: "Yes," he replied.
"We are not in a court of law now. We are not in the midst of a defamation case. That is the word on the grapevine, that is what I am hearing." Perhaps the idea was to attract a charge of defamation. That way Arendse could face his opponents on familiar territory, in court, where he seldom loses.
It was difficult to see exactly where he laid the largest portion of blame for his demise. It started with the relationship between him and Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola, which he said had "irretrievably" broken down, a claim Majola later described as "surprising".
Majola also strongly denied Arendse's claim that he viewed the presidency of CSA as a "figurehead position", saying he respected the relationship "between policy and operations", a clear reference to the widely held belief that Arendse frequently overstepped the terms of reference of the presidency into the day-to-day running of the organisation.
|Having said that he had every right to remain president until 2010, Arendse then said he was so disgusted by the "skulduggery" of some committee members that he no longer wanted "anything to do with them." He then said he remained a faithful supporter of South African cricket and remained available to serve it in any capacity|
Almost every attempt by Arendse to sound placatory and reasonable was followed instantly by a dose of vitriol. "If I was a thorn in Gerald's side then it has now been removed and he is free to get on with the job of running cricket, and I wish him well," said Arendse, before the inevitable, sinister rejoinder. "If I had my knives out for Gerald then I would have put them in his back three years ago when I sat on the inquiry into [former financial director] Diteko Modise's fraud case. Finally the man has now been jailed. Gerald was implicated in that but I backed him and supported him," said Arendse.
If there was an award for the greatest number of contradictions to be placed on public record in an hour, Arendse would have been a worthy contender. Having said he couldn't name any of the perpetrators of his demise, he quickly named former Gauteng president Barry Skjoldhammer as one of the Judases. And he named Griqualand West president Ahmed Jinnah as a recipient of one of the corrupt "offers" - in his case an escape from the unhappy, forced marriage in a franchise with Free State. "At least he should be happy - he'll be getting his own franchise now," said Arendse.
Having insisted that the minutes of two CSA executive committee meetings record an agreement that the restructuring of CSA would not necessitate fresh elections, and that he had every right to remain as president until 2010, he then said he was so disgusted by the "skulduggery" of some committee members that he no longer wanted "anything to do with them."
He then said he remained a faithful supporter of South African cricket and remained available to serve it in any capacity.
Arendse made some outrageous claims and statements. In a normal world there would be a queue of people consulting their lawyers on Thursday morning. But the fact that no action will be taken, and no comment given, will be all the evidence needed to illustrate the relief that the majority of CSA's stakeholders will feel that they are now free of him.
Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agency