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A dose of vitriol

Almost every attempt by Norman Arendse to sound placatory and reasonable during his resignation press conference was followed instantly by something contradictory

Neil Manthorp

September 17, 2008

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Norman Arendse, a worthy contender for the record for the greatest number of contradictions to be uttered in an hour © Getty Images

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

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Posted by gary_f on (September 19, 2008, 13:48 GMT)

The whole way the Andre Nel Charl Langeveldt issue was handled was appalling. We lost a good player considered part of transformation. Arendse is aggressive and divisive. The cricket side have done well in spite of Arendse, not because of him. SA cricket & rugby must me the worst sports administration ever. Hardly conducive to having a world beating side. All we need now is for DeVilliers to quit too & we will have had two improvements.

Posted by Ryanbrew on (September 18, 2008, 12:11 GMT)

I couldnt agree with you more Mr Manthorp. Mr Arendse has been an absolute abomination to South African Cricket, and almost as embarassing as a certain Mr Percy Sonn!!!

I say good riddance. His views of affiliates not willing to undergo transformation are absolutely laughable. When we look at the people he mentions, many of them are people are of "colour". How on earth could they not be pro Transformation???

Mr Arendse created serious waves when he was on the KZN board - one of the boards he cited as his supporters. But the biggest issue he had there also happened to be TRANSFORMATION. Yet KZN happens to be one of the most "TRANSFORMED" provinces in the country.

I believe rather than looking for transformation, and that whihc is to the good of the country, Mr Arendse had always had his own agenda. Something which many journalists had worried over when he left KZN to step into the presidency at CSA.

Thank you for leaving Mr Arendse. Cricket lovers in SA sigh with relief.

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Neil Manthorp Neil Manthorp is a writer and broadcaster based in Cape Town where he started the independent sports news agency MWP Media in 1992. He has covered more than 40 tours and 120 Test matches since South Africa's return to international cricket and Zimbabwe's elevation to Test status. A regular commentator for SABC radio, Neil has also joined the host radio teams in West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and England - where he preferred Test Match Special's pork pies to their chocolate cake. He recently completed Gary Kirsten's biography.

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