June 4, 2002

St George's Park keeps WC semifinal despite administration crisis

St George's Park in Port Elizabeth will keep its World Cup semi-final, for the time being anyway, despite a new outbreak of infighting in the Eastern Province Cricket Board which prompted the resignation of president Ronnie Pillay at the weekend.

According to a report in Port Elizabeth daily, The EP Herald, the United Cricket Board is considering taking over the running of Eastern Province cricket, such is the disarray in the administration.

UCB spokesperson Bronwyn Wilkinson said she could neither confirm nor deny this possibility, but she did say that UCB chief executive Gerald Majola had been in Port Elizabeth recently and had prepared a report on his findings.

Pillay's resignation was preceded several weeks ago by the suspension of board member Rajan Moodaley for the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Majola is quoted in the EP Herald as saying: "The report, dealing with a number of irregularities, including that of Mr Moodaley, will now be discussed and a decision taken on the way forward.

"Eastern Province cricket supporters do not deserve what is happening in EP cricket and a decision on what steps must be taken to restore order will have to be taken soon. An announcement can be expected as soon as the beginning of next week."

The crisis in the administration comes as St George's Park is undergoing a massive upgrade in order to be able to host one of the World Cup semi-finals, but World Cup organising committee spokesman Rodney Hartman said on Tuesday that there were no plans to move the semi-final to an alternative venue.

"We have a very capable man co-ordinating the World Cup preparations down there in (EPCB chief executive) Dave Emslie," said Hartman. "We'll be keeping an eye on developments down there as we will on all the World Cup venues."

The EP Herald report claims that Pillay's resignation was preceded by a secret meeting in New Brighton attended by ANC politicians, community and cricketing figures at which a vote of no-confidence in Pillay was set aside.

It is no secret that a primary reason for awarding St George's Park a semi-final was the strong tradition of cricket in the African communities spread around the Eastern Cape and any decision to take the match away from Port Elizabeth would severely embarrass the ANC.

The most likely alternative venue would be SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The EP Herald also reports former EPCB president Flip Potgieter to have said that two people were to blame for Pillay's resignation - Moodaley and director of professional cricket Julius Majola. Potgieter is reported to have said that these two men had their own agendas.

Julius Majola is no relation to UCB CEO Gerald.