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Explainer: How and why Cricket South Africa's crisis developed

From on-field defeats to off-field meltdown, it's been an annus horriblis for South Africa

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Faf du Plessis hears the death rattle behind him  •  Associated Press

Faf du Plessis hears the death rattle behind him  •  Associated Press

The decade is almost over but South African cricket has rewound back to the start. Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and maybe even AB de Villiers are back and the same man who was acting CEO in 2012, Jacques Faul, is acting CEO in 2019. In-between, a lot has happened. Here, ESPNcricinfo explains the goings-on at Cricket South Africa in the last few weeks.

How did we get here?

For the full picture, we have to go back to September 2017 when former CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat's tenure ended. Lorgat was forced out largely because he was unable to sell television rights for the Global League T20, and was replaced by Thabang Moroe, who was then CSA's vice-president. Moroe had little executive management experience and it showed almost immediately when he used his first media engagement to indicate that he wanted to change CSA's relationship with the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), and essentially weaken its powers.
In Moroe's time in charge, CSA and SACA's relationship hit an all-time low which included a delay in the signing of the memorandum of understanding, which effectively lays out the terms and conditions of players' employment; a lack of consultation over a restructure of the domestic game and two violations of commercial rights agreements. CSA also projected losses of R654 million over the next four-year cycle, as a result of fewer high-profile incoming tours, among other factors. That's the behind-the-scenes side of the story.
Front and centre of the issues were how things played out on the field. Under Moroe, coach Ottis Gibson was first told his contract would only be renewed if he won the 2019 World Cup, then that he needed to reach the final, then that his deal would be extended to 2021 and then that he and his entire coaching staff were being let go. CSA announced a new structure, which consolidated power in the CEO's hands. A director of cricket (DoC) was to be appointed who would choose a team director, who, in turn, would choose his staff. The DoC would report to the CEO.
These changes were only put forward in August which left too little time for permanent appointments to be made by the time South Africa toured India in September. Instead, an interim director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl (who previously worked as CSA's General Manager of Cricket) appointed an interim team director Enoch Nkwe for the tour. South Africa drew the T20 series and were whitewashed in the Tests. At the same time, CSA conducted interviews for the DoC and other roles.
On their return home, amid mounting media pressure to explain everything from the domestic restructure to the appointment of the men's team's coaching staff to the financial issues, Moroe revoked the accreditation of five journalists which set in motion a chain of events that led to his suspension and the resignation of four board members. This included the withdrawal of a major sponsor and an ultimatum by another, as well as a chorus of former administrators including Ali Bacher and Norman Arendse calling on the CEO and board to resign.
On Friday, December 6, Moroe was suspended and Faul was appointed, Smith accepted the DoC job for three months and put a coaching staff in place. And here we are...

The National Team

What is the role of Smith as director of cricket?
Most urgently, to appoint the men's national team coaching staff, which has now been done. Over time, the DoC will oversee all cricket played under the CSA umbrella, which includes the national women's team, domestic cricket, and age-group cricket. The position requires someone well acquainted with all aspects of the game in South Africa and with a deep knowledge of international cricket. Smith, who captained South Africa for 11 years including nine years undefeated in Test series on the road and two World Cups, is familiar with varying conditions and expectations and is an expert on the landscape at home and abroad. He is well-respected abroad and brings gravitas to an organisation recently bereft of cricketing expertise.
If Smith has only signed on for three months, what does that mean for the future?
Smith's term is currently limited because of his commentary stint at the IPL, which was he signed up to do before being offered this position, but also because he wants to get a feel for the job before deciding if he will take it on permanently. A key determinant in whether Smith stays is the future of the CEO's position. Smith was initially approached by Moroe to take the DoC job but when weeks of negotiation yielded no outcome, Smith withdrew interest, citing lack of confidence in the leadership. It was only on Moroe's suspension that Smith signed on and then, Smith reiterated that he didn't think he could do the job under Moroe but has confidence in Faul.
What's happened to the title 'team director'?
It has been scrapped. Smith has decided to return to terms people know - head coach and assistant coach.
Who is the head coach, what are his credentials and how long has he been appointed for?
Mark Boucher, who played 147 Tests, 295 ODIs and 25 T20s for South Africa in a career that spanned 15 years. Boucher has a Level 2 coaching certificate and has been in charge of the Titans franchise since August 2016. They have won five trophies in that time. He has been appointed until after the 2023 World Cup.
How does Enoch Nkwe fit in?
Nkwe, who was made interim team director after one season as a franchise coach during which he won a trophy with the Jozi Stars and two with the Lions, is now the assistant coach. Nkwe has a Level 4 coaching qualification and worked in the Netherlands after his first-class career ended. Smith indicated the long-term plan is for Nkwe to succeed Boucher.
Who makes up South Africa's full support staff?
South Africa have a batting and bowling consultant - Jacques Kallis and Charl Langeveldt - who are contracted only for the 2019-20 summer. Kallis is expecting his first child in 2020 which may affect his availability in the future, while Langeveldt was poached from Bangladesh, where he had been signed on a two-year deal. He left after five months. Also in Bangladesh are former national coach Russell Domingo and batting coach Neil McKenzie, both of whom South Africa may want back. Fielding coach Justin Ontong has been retained from the Ottis Gibson era.
What happened to Gibson's other backroom staff like Malibongwe Maketa, Claude Henderson and Dale Benkenstein?
Maketa, like Nkwe, was appointed with a view to succeeding the head coach, but has found himself all but frozen out of the new regime. Maketa was named as an assistant coach to the South Africa A side but has not landed a permanent job on the local scene. His home franchise, the Warriors, have appointed Robin Peterson as their coach for this season and there is no room at any of the other five franchises either, including Boucher's Titans. Mandla Mashimbyi, who assisted both Boucher and his predecessor Matthew Maynard at the Titans, has been promoted to the job there.
Henderson lives in Leicester and is coaching there. Benkenstein held a concurrent job at Hilton College, an elite school in Kwa-Zulu Natal, while working as South Africa's batting coach and has returned to that role.
What is Ashwell Prince's role?
He has been named coach of the SA A side and will continue to coach the Cobras. Sources claim Prince was offered the role of batting consultant to the national side but rejected it.
Does South Africa have a convenor of selectors and selection panel?
Not yet. Former convenor Linda Zondi has been brought back in until April 2020 as an independent selector. Part of Moroe's revamp was to appoint a full-time selection convenor, who would be a CSA employee. Zondi was interviewed for that role, alongside Monde Zondeki and Patrick Moroney, who Moroe was likely to appoint. However, this job has been put on ice until the end of the financial year in April because of budgetary constraints.
Who selects the South African team?
For now, Zondi, Boucher, Nkwe and captain Faf du Plessis.
Is du Plessis still going to lead SA in all formats?
If du Plessis could choose, the answer would be yes. He confirmed his interest in captaining in all three formats at the conclusion of the Mzansi Super League, where his Paarl Rocks team took the trophy. At the same time, du Plessis emphasised the need to give other players leadership experience so that South Africa don't find themselves in a captaincy vacuum when he calls it a day. Du Plessis indicated we may see some changing of the armband in shorter formats through the summer, something that has already happened. Du Plessis was left out of the T20 side to tour India in October and Quinton de Kock was named captain. At the time, the talk was that de Kock and Temba Bavuma were being groomed for future leadership roles. That could change under Smith.
Will things get better now?
The inclusion of past greats has gone a long way to restoring credibility to the South African set-up but their impact will only be seen in a few months' time. On-field results will be the most obvious way to judge the success of the new regime but there are many other markers. Commercial interest is one. Cohesion is another.

The bottom line

Is CSA still projecting losses of R654 million and why?
The exact figure is not known at the moment, but it's safe to say CSA are in a financial crunch. R654 million was forecast in September 2018 for the four-year cycle which ends in 2022 and was based on South Africa's FTP, which is leaner than it has previously been. However, it did not include the losses from the MSL, which were calculated at R110 million for the 2018 edition and will likely be a little more in 2019, as well as the television rights deal, which will be renegotiated with pay-television broadcaster SuperSport in 2021 and is expected to fetch less than previous contracts. As a result, SACA put the projected losses at over R1 billion. CSA, however, claim to have taken austerity measures to bring this down to around R300 million.
What is CSA doing to cut costs?
Again, we don't exactly know but the organisation has had budget cuts (hence Zondi's short-term appointment). The domestic restructure was due to be the biggest cost-cutter with the removal of an entire tier of teams, and associated costs. It is worth remembering that none of the six franchises or 14 provincial teams are financially independent and all rely on CSA's money to function. Former ICC CEO Dave Richardson has been put in charge of a committee that will fully investigate and report back on the viability and need for a domestic restructure, given the financial landscape.
Does CSA have any sponsors?
Yes, for now. Standard Bank remain on board until April 2020, but have confirmed they will not renew their deal after that date. Momentum have issued an ultimatum that unless either the entire CSA board is dissolved or president Chris Nenzani and vice-president Beresford Williams step down, they will reconsider their sponsorship post April 2020. CSA were due to unveil Betway as a sponsor last Saturday but the details have not been finalised.
Does this mean South African players could risk smaller paycheques?
Maybe. Which is why South African cricketers will continue to seek opportunity abroad, especially if they can earn hard currency such as dollars or pounds. However, more seriously, SACA claim that if the domestic restructure goes ahead, 70 domestic cricketers could lose their jobs.

The administration

Who is Dr Jacques Faul and how long will he be CSA's Acting CEO?
Faul is from the west of Johannesburg and has been involved in cricket administration throughout his career. After working as a prosecutor and serving on the North West Cricket Board, Faul was made CEO of North West Cricket Union at the age of 35. He was previously acting CEO when Majola was dismissed in 2012 after the 2009 IPL Bonus Scandal. Faul holds an MBA and a doctorate in Economic Management Science and has been CEO of the Titans franchise since 2013. His latest role at CSA will not exceed six months, during which time Moroe will undergo a disciplinary process. If cleared, Moroe could return. Faul has not indicated if he would be interested in continuing in the job beyond that, but if he is, he is likely to have to undergo an application process.
Who appointed Faul?
The CSA board.
Who makes up the CSA board?
In theory, a president, vice-president, six provincial presidents chosen from the 14 affiliates, and five independent directors. The current president is Chris Nenzani, and the vice-president is Beresford Williams. Currently, there are only two independent directors, Marius Schoeman and Steve Cornelius, following the resignations of three others (Professor Shirley Zinn, Iqbal Khan and Dawn Mokhobo) and six provincial presidents along with president Chris Nenzani and Beresford Williams. Jack Madiseng of the Gauteng Cricket Board resigned last week. The remaining provincial presidents on the board are Zola Thamae (Free State), Tebogo Siko (Easterns), Donovan May (Eastern Province) and Angelo Carolisse (Boland)
Does that mean the board effectively appoints itself?
Just about. Almost half of the 14 provincial presidents that make up the Members Council are on the board. However, these presidents are obliged to act on the mandates of their respective provinces and at least three - Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Province - have issued directives to their president calling on the board to step down.
Who is Chris Nenzani?
A schoolteacher from the Eastern Cape and former Border president, Nenzani was elected CSA President in 2013. He has already served two terms, the second of which was extended by a year in September 2019 by constitutional amendment. At the time, Nenzani argued his prolonged stay was aimed at bringing stability to CSA in the face of major changes and challenges including the domestic revamp, the new coaching structure and looming debt. Nenzani said CSA needed "sensible" leadership, which he could provide.
What kind of relationship does Nenzani have with the players?
A poor one. SACA have made repeated calls for Moroe and the entire board to step down and have refused to negotiate with any CSA panel that includes board members over any issue. Most recently, SACA said they would not engage with the Richardson committee over the domestic restructure, because the matter is sub-judice and needs to be resolved in court first.
Is SACA's position likely to change with Tony Irish's departure to England's Professional Cricketers' Association from 2020?
No. Irish's successor Andrew Breetzke has been SACA's head of legal and player advocacy since 2012 and will continue to push for the same demands.
What does this mean for the players?
On a day-to-day basis, SACA acts as a buffer for the players when it comes to dealing with administrative issues. However, the extent of the animosity in recent months has had an effect on the field, according to Smith, Boucher, and du Plessis. While it's difficult to claim causality between these issues and results, South Africa's poor on-field performances have coincided with the crises at CSA and the strained relationship with SACA.
How badly has the South African team done?
2019 has been an annus horribilis for them with five straight Test defeats, including a first-ever loss to Sri Lanka at home. As a result, they now sit at the bottom of the World Test Championship points table. South Africa also fell way below expectations at the World Cup, and were effectively eliminated after just five group-stage matches.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent