South Africa news March 11, 2012

South Africa players back recommendation to restructure board

South Africa's players have asked for their board to be restructured in accordance with the recommendations of a government inquiry into the payment of unauthorised bonuses. The committee, chaired by Judge Chris Nicholson, suggested that CSA appoint a smaller board with a majority of independent directors. It also found chief executive Gerald Majola had breached the Companies Act in a manner serious enough to merit referral to the National Prosecuting Authority.

Majola and 39 other staff members received a collective R4.7 million (US $671, 428) in bonuses after the hosting of the 2009 IPL and Champion Trophy. This was in addition to bonuses they had already been paid, through the board, and the second payment was not declared through official channels. Following an internal and external inquiry, the South African sports ministry intervened and set up a separate commission to re-investigate.

The national team have been largely unaffected by the drama, even as it has unfolded over the course of two summers, and have finally spoken out through their association. "The players have been patient throughout a long and unhappy period of instability, but now that there are clear recommendations we expect the CSA Board to act immediately and decisively," Tony Irish, chief executive of the South African Cricketers' Association, said. "We want the administration of the game in the best hands and, at the heart of that process is getting the composition of the board of directors right."

Irish was clear that the players wanted to get the message out that they are in support of restricting the board and wanted it happen as soon as possible. "The appointment of suitable directors cannot happen overnight, but the process should start immediately. We believe that is the most important recommendation of the inquiry."

The Nicholson report had made negative conclusions about the conduct of Majola and the board as a whole, suggesting that CSA's structures need a complete overhaul. Nicholson has recommended that Majola be put on 180 days leave - in accordance with his contract, with full pay to prepare his defence for a possible court case - and a process of cleaning-out begin.

The only on-field implication of the saga so far has been the struggle for CSA to find sponsors. The Twenty20 and ODI series against Australia were without corporate backing, as was the domestic one-day cup. The domestic 20-over competition only secured a sponsor in the same week as the first match was played.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent