Haroon Lorgat

'My biggest challenge will be to build sustainability'

Haroon Lorgat on his reasons for taking the CSA chief job, how he will restore the board's reputation and what he hopes to achieve in his time in charge

Interview by Firdose Moonda

July 22, 2013

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When CSA went in search of a new head and word got out that former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat had applied, their headhunt was considered over. Lorgat appeared to tick all the boxes, having both cricket and business experience. He turned out in 76 first-class games at a time when South Africa did not offer equal opportunity to all. He worked as a chartered accountant before becoming part of the then United Cricket Board's finance committee and served as their treasurer. He was South Africa's convenor of selectors before he led the ICC for four years.

But CSA did not settle on him immediately and cast their net wider in order to attract more of the country's top executives. When the board reviewed the candidates, Lorgat still came out tops. Lorgat will relocate from Cape Town to Johannesburg and begins work on August 1. He spoke to ESPNcricinfo about his reasons for taking the job, how he will restore CSA's reputation and what he hopes to achieve in his time in charge.


Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, at a press conference, Melbourne, June 13, 2012
Haroon Lorgat: "In the ICC role, I built a network of excellent relations with global broadcasters, commercial parties, administrators, professionals, media persons and notably the players. This is a particular asset I would bring to CSA." © Getty Images
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When and why did you become interested in the chief executive position at CSA?

I never foresaw becoming involved in CSA, but after all that had happened over the past few years and with many people from all quarters approaching me and asking me if I was interested, I felt a need to help restore confidence and the good reputation that South African cricket deserves. I could not turn away from such a call and of course it provides me the opportunity to contribute in South Africa. This is where I come from and I could not wait to come home. The day after the new board was announced, I submitted my application.

You previously mentioned it would be non-negotiable for you to work with a board that included an independent component. Are you satisfied with the way CSA has restructured and do you see it as an improvement on their previous set-up?

I am a big fan of independence. It keeps people honest and in their place and the independents don't serve any vested interests. I had indicated that I would only be interested in this job if the governance was restructured and I believe CSA has improved vastly in this regard. I have not sat through a full board meeting but in the 90 minutes I have interacted with them, I have been very impressed. I am looking forward to working with this board because they are very mindful of corporate governance. I think there are good people on it who will ensure corporate governance is adhered to.

Even though most on this board were not involved with the bonus scandal, they are still publicly distrusted by association. Your first task will probably be to restore confidence in CSA. How do you plan to go about that?

By continuing to work in the manner I have always worked and to do whatever is right and in the best interest of the game. This is an opportunity to build some confidence because CSA has not enjoyed the best of times of late. But already, sponsors have come back and most of the properties have been sold at good value. I'm confident our reputation will continue to improve.

Somewhere else where the image is in question is India. You've already said it will be your priority to smoothen your relationship with the BCCI. How will you go about that??

I will need to first understand what the issue is and I will do my best to resolve any differences. I always did what I thought was in the best interests of the game and will continue to do that. I know the game is bigger than any one of us so I will have no hesitation to apologise if I had wrongly offended anyone as it was never my intention to cause anyone harm.

 
 
"We simply cannot be satisfied with the lack of representation from our biggest community - black Africans - and therefore this must clearly be an area of focus. At the moment, we are not benefitting from the talent that exists among black African players and we need to work hard to nurture it right into the national team."
 

The India issue seems to be the one negative from your time with the ICC, but there must have been many positives. What aspects of what you learnt at the ICC will you bring to this job?

There is no specific thing but rather a set of experiences developed from having played first-class cricket and then administered the game at every level from club cricket to being CEO of the ICC. In the ICC role, I built a network of excellent relations with global broadcasters, commercial parties, administrators, professionals, media persons and notably the players. This is perhaps a particular asset that I would bring to CSA.

What is your assessment of the players you will preside over?

Obviously, the Test team has done exceptionally well and we're very proud of them. The limited-overs squads are still working towards that. I have no doubt they are very committed to what they are doing and they would have taken Saturday's defeat to Sri Lanka hard. They don't take losses easily. They want to be champions and so they don't want to lose. I haven't had the opportunity to meet with the national coach yet but I am looking forward to that. I know most of the players either from when I was in South Africa or from meeting them on travels in the last few years and I enjoy a good relationship with them, which I hope to grow.

Apart from the national team, the franchises will also require your attention. What will you look to do at that level of the game?

While we can be proud of our national team we cannot ignore the challenges faced by the domestic franchises. They are absolutely integral to the future health of South African cricket and I will certainly look to see how we can work together to improve their situation. I think that financially some of them may need some support and I will look at ways in which we can help them.

Transformation is an unavoidable topic in South Africa. What is your approach to it?

We simply cannot be satisfied with the lack of representation from our biggest community - black Africans - and therefore this must clearly be an area of focus. At the moment, we are not benefitting from the talent that exists among black African players and we need to work hard to nurture it right into the national team.

What are you most looking forward to? And what do you see as your biggest challenge?

I'm looking forward to help restore confidence in CSA and I am excited by what I experienced during my first interaction with the board. Without the opportunity of a deeper understanding of CSA matters, I think my biggest challenge will be to build sustainability, both in economics and in player development, which includes transformation.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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