Intervention from Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa's sports minister, into Cricket South Africa's matters will be treated as government interference by the ICC only if the cricket board lays a formal complaint with the game's global governing body or if the ICC deems the circumstances to be exceptional. That means, for now, CSA's status as a functioning member of the ICC remains, and its risk of suspension is relatively low.
On Wednesday morning, Mthethwa issued a notice, saying that he would use South Africa's National Sport and Recreation Act to look into matters at CSA, which is battling administrative issues, unless CSA gives him a reason not to by October 27.
Mthethwa has also written to the ICC informing them of his decision. "The ICC has received a letter from the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture in South Africa giving notice of potential intervention into the matters of Cricket South Africa," an ICC spokesperson said. "At this stage, no complaint has been received from Cricket South Africa regarding government intervention and Members are encouraged to resolve matters directly with their governments. We will continue to monitor the situation."
An example of how things can go horribly wrong is not far from South Africa. Zimbabwe were the first full members to be suspended by the ICC in July last year. At the time, Zimbabwe's Sports and Recreation Commission had suspended the Zimbabwe Cricket board and a ZC complaint to the ICC had resulted in a unanimous decision to suspend Zimbabwe on grounds of government interference. Zimbabwe were reinstated when the ZC board was given their positions back.
The chances of CSA lodging a complaint depend on what action Mthethwa takes. According to the law, he may intervene on any dispute, alleged mismanagement, or matters that are likely to bring the sport into disrepute but may not interfere in the appointment and termination of the services of the executive of a sport's body, in the selection of teams, or in the administration of the sport.
Mthethwa has not yet made any comments about how he intends to deal with CSA, apart from instructing to comply with the instructions of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), who had asked for CSA's board and executive to temporarily step aside while investigating unrestricted access to CSA's forensic report, which was used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe. Mthethwa is also unhappy with CSA's transformation record.
Meanwhile, the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) has yet again called for CSA to stand down, saying there is "no longer confidence in their ability to govern the organisation and provide guidance on resolving many of the crises that remain."
SACA has asked that an interim board be instituted, which must include a SACA player, a representative from the sponsors and broadcasters, and an experienced administrator to assist in the operational work.
"As has been recognised by DSAC (Department of Sports, Arts and Culture) and SASCOC, the current Board has no credibility to resolve the crises, and it is clear that the current impasse between Government and CSA will not be resolved until such time as the Board stands down," Andrew Breetzke, SACA CEO, said. "We therefore implore the CSA Board to stand down and thereby take a decision that will be in the best interests of cricket."