Cricket South Africa's (CSA) Members' Council is likely to go back on their proposal of having a 12-team provincial set-up in place of the six-team franchise system. The decision was mooted during a meeting of the 14 affiliate presidents, who made up the council, in Johannesburg on Friday. The council also plans to appoint a committee to chart the way forward.
The decision of the Members' Council comes 10 days before CSA's board is due to deliberate on the organisational structure as well as the future of Chris Nenzani, the president, and Beresford Williams, the vice-president. The duo is under pressure to step down following CSA's recent turmoil, which includes a stand-off with the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA).
SACA has opposed CSA's plans of restructuring the domestic game because the move is seen as a way to cull expenses after the board projected losses of R654 million over the next four-year cycle.
The players' body claimed it wasn't consulted over the proposal, which would result in 70 cricketers losing their contracts, by extension their jobs, if the move was formalised. SACA also later launched a case against CSA on this very issue at the Johannesburg High Court. CSA responded to the showcause notice seven months later, in November.
All this took place under Thabang Moroe. The board CEO was suspended in December after CSA was mired in further controversy following the resignation of three board members and suspension of six staff members. Major sponsors pulling out of their contracts with CSA also played a part in Moroe's suspension.
Since then, Jacques Faul has taken over as acting CEO. One of the most important items on his agenda is to repair CSA's relationship with SACA and obtain clarity over the domestic system.
To that end, CSA appointed former ICC CEO David Richardson to head a steering committee to make recommendations on the domestic structure. However, SACA refused to engage while the matter remained sub-judice. If the Members' Council formally withdraws plans to restructure the game, it is likely SACA will withdraw its case and agree to discussions with CSA.
It is imperative for talks to be held soon as the contracts of franchise and provincial cricketers will expire in April. If a new system is put in place, that leaves little time to finalise arrangements for the 2020-21 season.