Cricket South Africa is to blame for the decline in the coaching careers of Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams, who were both on the radar to take over the national team in 2017, but missed out in favour of Ottis Gibson. Former CSA CEO Thabang Moroe, speaking at the Social Justice and Nation-Building (SJN) hearings, detailed how Toyana and Adams were overlooked and held CSA's administration responsible for their fate, saying the pair should have been involved at international level.
"It is testament to how we, as administrators, have behaved over the years. This is how people of colour have kept missing opportunities that could have been afforded to them by us," Moroe said. "We, as CSA, literally killed the careers of these two gentlemen. These are the inequalities that are glaringly there if you look at the landscape of South African cricket."
Moroe, who served as CSA's vice-president from 2016 to 2018, revealed how the board agreed that after Russell Domingo, who was South Africa's first head coach of colour from 2013 to 2017, South Africa would have another head coach of colour. A sub-committee on the board, the cricket committee, earmarked Toyana and Adams as candidates to succeed Domingo.
"When Russell's tenure ended, CSA's cricket committee identified two coaches we would need to look at to replace Russell as the coach of the national team. Those were Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams. They were the two most successful coaches in the country," Moroe said. "It was a no-brainer that either both would be hired, with one as an assistant, or one would definitely be made coach. At board level, we discussed the cricket committee's paper and the one thing the board agreed on was that we would hire a black coach."
An adhoc committee, which did include Moroe, was instated to advertise, shortlist and interview candidates and make a recommendation on Domingo's replacement. "During that period, even at board level, we were talking about how Geoffrey Toyana was head and shoulders above other coaches, purely because of his performances," Moroe said. "When the chairperson of the adhoc committee announced that they preferred Ottis Gibson to be the coach, it came as a surprise to us because we were talking about the short period the coach would have before the next World Cup and how we wanted a coach that was familiar with all our players in the system, with the South African environment and somebody who was going to be able to hit the ground running. Choosing somebody who didn't even live in this country came as a surprise given all these things we had listed as concerns."
It also raised questions specifically about Toyana, who was the first black African coach in the franchise system. He had overseen the Lions to four trophies in as many seasons and was considered the frontrunner to succeed Domingo.
"Some board members, including myself, asked where Geoffrey Toyana's shortcomings were because we were all sure Geoffrey would be the coach," Moroe said. "The chairperson of the adhoc committee then told us they were not happy with how he articulated himself and they were not happy with his presentation skills. That was concerning feedback because we were not hiring him to do presentations or public speaking. We wanted somebody who knew how to coach the crop of players we had at the time and somebody who could give us good results. Although we were going through the formal process, we all felt Geoffrey was the guy, only to be told he would not be the guy."
Although unhappy, the board accepted the recommendation to appoint Gibson but, "we said we should ensure Paul Adams or Geoffrey Toyana becomes the assistant," Moroe said. "The majority felt Geoffrey should be the one we push for with Paul Adams coming in as a spin-bowling coach."
Moroe was tasked with welcoming Gibson into the country and informing him about the board's decision on the assistant coach position, which Gibson did not support. "Immediately Ottis Gibson raised concerns and one of the concerns he raised was that we were specifically hiring him to win the World Cup and if we wanted him to win the World Cup, we needed to give him leeway to choose his support staff," Moroe said. "He felt he can only win the World Cup with a support staff that believed in him which, we felt, was a fair point."
According to Moroe, Gibson wanted to hire someone, whose name Moroe could not recall, who was demanding a salary higher than Gibson's. CSA refused. Then, Gibson asked for Dale Benkenstein, but CSA refused again. "Benkenstein was a high school cricket coach at the time and did not have the necessary qualifications to be coaching in the national team, let alone being assistant coach," Moroe said.
Benkenstein was later brought on as a batting coach, and split those with his responsibilities at Hilton College. Gibson, meanwhile, went on to ask for "one-on-ones with all professional coaches in the country so that he could choose who he felt was the guy who could take over as assistant," Moroe said.
"He met with all the coaches in the franchise system, had one-on-ones with them, watched them coaching their teams and some during live games and he had come to a conclusion in terms of who he felt was suited to be assistant coach. He said he would prefer Malibongwe Maketa to be his assistant. That surprised me. At the time we had Paul Adams and Geoffrey Toyana and Malibongwe had only been a franchise coach for one season. He hadn't really been tested in the system to say he has got what it takes. He hadn't built [up] enough track record. I told Ottis of my concerns but supported his decision."
Maketa, who was the Warriors coach at the time, went on to work as Gibson's assistant coach but lost his job when Gibson was fired after the 2019 World Cup. Maketa is now the South Africa A coach. At the time of Maketa's appointment, Toyana and Adams continued as franchise coaches, but not for much longer.
"If you look at Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams' careers, immediately after the announcements were made of appointing Ottis and his support staff, they somehow started having misunderstandings with their own players in their franchise teams, started fighting with their own boards and then they were not coaching in franchise cricket."
Toyana was moved sideways at the Lions after 2017-18 season and then replaced by Enoch Nkwe. His most recent work was as assistant coach for the Titans. Last year in a radio interview, former CSA president Chris Nenzani said Toyana being overlooked for the national job was "unfortunate." Moroe said it was "just wrong," for Nenzani to say that when he was in charge of the board at the time. "We had an opportunity as a board to do what we knew was right at the time," he said.
Adams lost his job at the Cobras to Ashwell Prince and has since been appointed head coach of Border, who will play in the second division of the restructured domestic scene. Adams has also given testimony at the SJN, in which he spoke about being nicknamed, "brown s***" by his team-mates, while Toyana is due to appear at the hearings later this week.
Moroe moved on from vice-president of the board to CSA CEO, and it was under him that Gibson was dismissed and Nkwe made interim team director. When Moroe was suspended for misconduct, CSA underwent an administrative overhaul and Nkwe was replaced by Mark Boucher. Nkwe is now Boucher's assistant, while Moroe was sacked last August after being found guilty.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent