CSA's members' council have u-turned on their decision not to recognise the nine-member interim board imposed by the country's sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa, and have agreed to ratify the temporary body. That means CSA will avoid a sanction from Mthethwa, which could have resulted in it being stripped of status as the governing body of cricket in South Africa, and having its funding withdrawn.
In the immediate term, it ensures the national men's series against England, which starts on November 27, is safe. England are due to arrive in South Africa on Tuesday to begin a 10-day quarantine period. Though the tour was green-lit by government, uncertainty over CSA's status meant that there were some concerns the administrative bungling could have on-field effects.
As long as the interim board is formally recognised (which should happen in the coming days in accordance with the Companies' Act) and Mthethwa is not needed to intervene again, series against Sri Lanka, Australia and Pakistan will also be able to go ahead as planned, while the women's team's schedule is also expected soon.
While CSA has escaped ministerial interference, the board may not be out of the international spotlight. The members' council, or any other department of CSA, could yet lodge a complaint with the ICC, citing government interference over the interim board, which could result in further action. Mthethwa has kept the ICC abreast of all his communication with CSA and interim board chair Zak Yacoob, who remains in his position, has made plain that the sports minister's action does not constitute a breach of ICC code of conduct as it aimed not at running cricket, but stabilising it.
Without the players there would be no game, that we all so dearly love. The players are at risk. I implore the members council to look after the future generation of players!— Farhaan Behardien (@fudgie11) November 13, 2020
It is not clear what caused the members' council's change of heart apart from the obvious: that they had no choice but to work with the interim board or face the wrath of government and a massive backlash from the most important stakeholders, the players and fans. The South African Cricketers' Association made known its "despair" that the members' council had initially stymied the interim board, and over the weekend, two current cricketers, Farhaan Behardien and Henry Davids implored them to "look after the future generation of players".
For that to happen, the work of the interim board needs to progress swiftly. The board was given an initial three-month period, which will run through to the end of January, to look into a wide-range of issues including a proposed domestic restructure and the forensic report which CSA used to fire former CEO Thabang Moroe, and to design a roadmap for CSA to elect a new, permanent board after its yet-to-scheduled AGM.
The magnitude of their task means the interim board require ease of access to information from CSA but they have been obstructed over the last two weeks, which could result in their stay being extended. Reliable sources confirming that the CSA executive have not been willing to supply information to the interim board . Yacoob himself said that "those members of the administration who we have interacted with have been uncooperative, difficult, unresponsive, arrogant and sometimes rude".
Some times you have to look past your personal issues, whatever they are, and look at the bigger picture... which is cricket!!! Make cricketing decisions please and please look past yourself!!!! The game will always be more important and bigger than you!!!— Henry Davids (@HenryDavids19) November 13, 2020
Crucially, the members' council also believed the interim board should report to them, something which Yacoob clarified is not the case. "This is not the type of board that can be placed under anyone's thumb," Yacoob said, stressing the independence of the interim board.