South Africa's players, including national-team captains Quinton de Kock and Dane van Niekerk, have cautioned that the "financial viability of the game is under major threat", and demanded that Cricket South Africa focus on effecting positive change before "irreparable damage" is caused.
A total of 30 cricketers, both men and women, were named in a statement sent out by the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) on Tuesday. In it, they express the worry that "this may be the last chance we have to change direction and save the game" in the wake of CSA, beset by a plethora of problems, postponing their annual general meeting.
Not only has cricket come to a standstill in the country because of Covid-19, CSA is without both a permanent CEO and an elected president, has an incomplete board, and is facing financial crisis and allegations of racism. Former CEO Thabang Moroe was fired last week for "acts of serious misconduct" after a suspension of more than nine months, while Chris Nenzani resigned two weeks ago, with his tenure on the brink of expiration. Through all that, CSA is expected to report a profit for the 2020 financial year - during which time England visited - though the three T20Is against India, planned for August and now taken out of CSA's budget, will mean losses in 2021.
At the same time, CSA is attempting to address allegations of exclusion by considering reparations for those who felt discriminated against in the past. The current crop of 30 players have recognised these myriad issues have shaken the game to its core and they fear that not all decisions are being taken with cricket at the core. They have demanded that the administrators concentrate on cleaning house.
"Issues such as suspensions, dismissals, resignations, forensic audits, confidential leaks, litigation and financial mismanagement have dominated the cricket headlines. This is happening at a time when we are having challenging conversations about transformation, and in an environment where the financial viability of the game is under major threat," the statement read. "Politics and self-interest appear to trump cricket imperatives and good governance. Decisions must be made that are in the best interests of cricket, failing which the game we love may be irreparably damaged in this country."
While the statement does not mention what action, if any, the players will take should their demands not be met, it offers a "sincere plea" to "save the game", which they believe should start with a close scrutiny of the current structures. "The Proteas teams must be strong, the domestic structure must be strong, and the transformation pipeline must be strong - we demand that this be the focus of the CSA Board and Operational Team."