The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) has launched legal proceedings against Cricket South Africa (CSA) over the board's decision to restructure domestic cricket. On Tuesday - the day before South Africa's World Cup opener against England at The Oval - SACA filed an application in Johannesburg's High Court calling on CSA to show cause why its decision to revamp the domestic game should not be reviewed and set aside.
"SACA's application has been filed in the South Gauteng local division of the High Court under case number 18985/2019," explained SACA chief executive Tony Irish. "It also calls on CSA to deliver to the court, and to SACA, documents and records which CSA relied upon in making the decision to restructure domestic cricket."
SACA's High Court application marks the latest round in a squabble between the two organisations that goes back to April, when CSA announced that from 2021 the domestic franchise system would be scrapped.
CSA decided to revert to the provincial model as part of austerity measures designed to offset projected losses of R 654 million (USD 45 million approx) over the next four years. But less than a month after the announcement SACA, through its lawyers, addressed a letter to CSA detailing its grievances, with SACA saying its concerns over the restructuring exercise "have simply been ignored by CSA".
"SACA's application to court follows numerous, unsuccessful attempts by us to get CSA to address our concerns relating to the financial situation in cricket," SACA President Omphile Ramela said. "It also follows clear breaches by CSA of SACA/CSA agreements in taking the decision to restructure domestic cricket."
"The restructuring decision will have serious implications for the players and for the game in South Africa," Ramela said. "The lack of proper engagement with SACA before making this decision has left us with no alternative but to approach the court to challenge that decision."
CSA have insisted that SACA has been consulted over the changes, with Corrie Van Zyl, the head of cricket pathways, saying: "I sat personally with SACA and consulted on the restructuring".
SACA have remained adamant that they have not been adequately consulted, stating further that CSA has ignored agreements between the two organisations. Their relationship plumbed new depths when, according to SACA, Irish was barred from attending a meeting at which the restructuring was discussed.
"CSA will now need to decide on whether or not to oppose our court application and if it opposes, it will need to file answering papers and SACA will have the right to reply to those," Irish said. "We expect that the legal process, which culminates in the hearing of our application in court, will take about three to four months."