Hugh Page receives a Proteas jacket back in 2016
- Hugh Page, a former national selector and critic of CSA, believes a total collapse might be needed at the federation before it can be overhauled.
- The former all-rounder, who already last year organised a grassroots initiative bemoaning the state of SA cricket, says independent governance is sorely needed but the right people are needed for it.
- Page isn’t surprised that CSA’s initial meltdown back in December has been topped by current events as “the wound wasn’t treated”.
Hugh Page, a former national selector and prominent critic of Cricket South Africa (CSA), believes the embattled federation has reached a point where its total collapse might need to be encouraged.
“Well, I think CSA now almost needs to fall apart completely, pick up the pieces and start over again,” he told Sport24 on Wednesday.
“You have to wonder, especially now that the organisation wants to revisit (2012’s) Nicholson Commission’s recommendations, whether it needs to be fully privatised and be run independently by professionals.
“I can’t see how you can continue to make these appointments and then end up in the courts because those people aren’t capable of fulfilling their responsibilities.”
Increased independent governance is indeed squarely in focus again after CSA itself confirmed on Monday that one of the main reasons its annual general meeting, which was scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed is the need for “a reconfiguration of the organisational structure”.
The Nicholson report notably advocated for a majority of independent board members and will now be utilised along with the findings and recommendations of the independent forensic investigation conducted Fundudzi.
CSA has done itself no favours in terms of improving its decision-making capability after seemingly accepting a questionable list of nominees for positions on the board.
‘Players’ voices were inevitable’
Page isn’t surprised that the Proteas men and women have found their voice on the malaise at CSA.
“The players had no option. No-one seems to be able to stop this runaway train. Our on-field heroes’ voices carry real weight.”
Simphiwe Ndzundzu, Border Cricket’s president, is being investigated for alleged assault; Xolani Vonya has been nominated as a non-independent director despite being suspended as Easterns’ chairperson for alleged misconduct; and Vuyokazi Nemani-Sedile, chair of CSA’s nominations committee, is available for one of the three vacant independent director spots despite the apparent conflict of interest.
“The list of nominees have question marks behind their names. One is up for fraud, the other assault. How do you expect the average Joe in the street to accept something like that,” said Page, who was one of the organisers late last year of the “Meeting of Cricket Lovers” event at the Wanderers, where everyday fans publicly expressed their dissatisfaction at the way cricket is currently being handled.
“They and the organisation would have simply no credibility going forward.”
That fits in with the broader theme of whether local sporting federations can still adopt the predominantly amateur approach of appointing “sportspeople” in decision-making positions.
Yet, as Page points out, appointing independent directors has its pitfalls too.
“Look, independent governance is the way to go but it depends on who you appoint,” he said.
“What is the point of independent directors if it’s about patronage? Clearly there are mates and people who are only going to look after themselves being appointed. Sadly, some of the appointees have no history in the game and little understanding of the game.
“How can make an informed decision on the game if you don’t understand it?”
The former Transvaal and Essex all-rounder, who appeared in seven unofficial Tests for South Africa during isolation, is particularly saddened by the fact that CSA’s initial implosion last December – when Thabang Moroe was eventually suspended as CEO – has been topped by current events.
“It was like a wound. If you weren’t going to treat it, this was going to be the outcome,” said Page.
“I’m not surprised that cricket is in the state it’s in. People don’t care about the job, they care about themselves. The custodians of the sport are doing it such a disservice.”