South Africa news July 22, 2013

BCCI relationship Lorgat's top priority

Understanding the BCCI's concerns and improving his relationship with the Indian board is one of Haroon Lorgat's top priorities as he begins his tenure as chief executive of CSA. Lorgat was appointed on Saturday and will officially take over the role on August 1 for a term of three years. His unveiling ends a nine-month period of uncertainty for the organisation which has been without a permanent boss since Gerald Majola's sacking in October 2012.

Although Lorgat was considered the frontrunner for the job even before he applied late last year, when CSA's board restructure was completed, a major hurdle to his appointment was the BCCI's objection. The Indian board is believed to harbour dissatisfaction with Lorgat from his time at the ICC, where they clashed with him over issues ranging from the FTP and DRS to the corporate governance review.

They informed CSA of their unhappiness and there was even talk India would cancel its upcoming tour to South Africa. CSA's president Chris Nenzani confirmed officials from South Africa met with the BCCI in February to discuss, among other things, Lorgat. The board is satisfied they have not put either the India tour or their relationship with the BCCI at risk despite giving Lorgat the top job.

"We went to India and talked to the president of the BCCI and they raised their concerns about Haroon [Lorgat]," Nenzani said at a press conference at the Wanderers. "We told them, 'We will not undermine your concerns but we will have to take decision based on the interests of CSA.' We have a long history of friendship and a good relationship with the BCCI and we value that relationship. We have no reason to believe this appointment will jeopardise the relationship in any way."

Nenzani said he had received "no information the tour will not go ahead", while Lorgat confirmed the two boards are still in talks about the itinerary. CSA released a schedule for two T20s, seven ODIs and three Tests to be played between November 21 and January 19 but the BCCI want some adjustments that could see the Tests played first.

By the time India arrive in South Africa, Lorgat would have completed three months in office and hopes to have gleaned thorough knowledge of the BCCI's reservations about him, reassured them and gained their trust. Lorgat admitted he is "not too sure" exactly what the BCCI's point of contention is but conceded they bumped heads at the ICC and the ethics officer was called in to mediate. All complaints against Lorgat were dismissed thereafter and Lorgat thought the matter had been put to bed.

"I am saddened by these inferences and I did not expect such a poor relationship to have formed. I don't like to be out of favour with someone I thought was a friend. I will do my best to understand the concerns," he said.

If I need to sit across a table, to go to India, whatever it takes to smooth things over, I have to put CSA first. When the issues come out, if it means I have offended someone and I need to apologise, I will.
Haroon Lorgat

But it does not end there. Not only does Lorgat want to comprehend, he also wants to reconcile and he is willing to go the extra mile to ensue that happens. "If I need to sit across a table, to go to India, whatever it takes to smooth things over, I have to put CSA first. When the issues come out, if it means I have offended someone and I need to apologise, I will."

Lorgat's deference to India may seem at odds with CSA's bold decision to choose him despite India's unhappiness, but Lorgat explained he is not seeking to further ruffle feathers. "We have to respect India and it's up to me to fix up anything that needs patching," he said.

Asked if he thought India was too powerful and used that might to exert their will, Lorgat was diplomatic. "I think in anything too much dominance of one person is not good. But I also think we should not begrudge strong people. We should aspire to be as strong as they are."

Over the last two years, while South Africa's Test team has gained the highest stature in world cricket, its administration has lagged far behind. The bonus scandal and revolving door of acting presidents and acting CEOs led to what ESPNCricinfo understands was a loss of respect at higher levels.

Lorgat's other aim is to restore the standing CSA once had, both in the eyes of other boards and its own public, whose trust was dented in the aftermath of the Majola affair. "What's happened in the past was not what anybody wanted to see," Lorgat said. "I am confident the reputation will improve. I am impressed by the new board and I think we have good people who will ensure corporate governance."

He also thanked his predecessor Majola, despite the manner in which he was dismissed, for "leading the organisation for almost a decade." Under Majola, South Africa hosted ICC events such as the inaugural World T20 and 2009 Champions Trophy and even stood in to put on the IPL in season 2.

Ironically, staging the Indian event led to Majola's downfall. Bonus payments from that event which did not pass through the board were the main reason for him being fired. But that South Africa were willing to bail India out in their hour of need was indication of the closeness of their relationship and Lorgat hopes to begin restoring that as soon as he can.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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