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Breaking down the breakdown of Cricket South Africa | Cricket



If CSA is derecognised, South Africa might not have teams playing international cricket, for a while at least © AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa is on the verge of derecognising Cricket South Africa (CSA), and if that happens, CSA will not be the body that officially runs cricket in the country. That is exactly as big a deal as it sounds like, and it’s been a long time coming. Here, we try to make sense of what’s happened and why.

Is it the end of cricket in South Africa?
It’s possible, at least for a while. If the government gazette containing the minister’s proposed interventions is published, then CSA will no longer be officially recognised as the game’s governing body in the country, and can no longer claim to be in charge of national teams or to hand out national colours.

So South Africa won’t have national cricket teams anymore?
Potentially, yes. If CSA is no longer recognised, then existing structures, as we know them, would cease to exist. Another governing body could, possibly, be formed but it would need to be recognised by both the South African sports ministry and the ICC in order to represent South Africa in international cricket.

That sounds… massive!
Yes, because this could, for example, mean sponsors and broadcasters walk away and once they do, it’s going to be difficult to get them back even if cricket does manage to get itself back on its feet. And the ripple effect will ultimately be felt not only by the players but by the broader community that makes a living off cricket. Think the stadium security guard or vendor or schools’ and development coaches.

Who’s going to run cricket in the country if not CSA?
Who knows? It’s difficult to know how things will work if the governing body is not recognised. This has not happened to a sport in South Africa to date and is not something cricket has dealt with at its highest, most prominent levels.

Hang on, remind me – why is this happening?
Essentially because some administrators are against having a new CSA board, which has a majority of independent members. Specifically, there are five presidents of provincial associations on the members’ council, who do not want to agree to having this majority independent board and have not fully explained why.

You’re losing me. What is the members’ council?
There are two centres of power in CSA: 1. the board of directors, who resigned last year and have been replaced by an interim board put in place by the government, and 2. the members’ council, which is made up of the 14 provincial presidents and has the highest decision-making authority in the organisation. Some of these presidents also sat on the resigned board and will sit on a new board (but not all of them). Following?

Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa is the man calling the shots right now © Gallo Images/Getty Images

Just about. Go on.
Now, prior to the board’s resignation, seven of the members’ council sat on the board, which had five independent directors. The new proposal for the composition of the board – which dates back to 2012, when CSA had another governance review following the Gerald Majola bonus scandal – suggests four members’ council presidents and seven independents. In short, the members’ appears to be unhappy that their representation on a new board is cut and is trying to cling to that power, though we don’t know for sure because they haven’t explained much. Probably important to note at this point is that board members earn Rand 450,000 (US$ 31,500 approx.) a year for attending meetings and enjoy several privileges including traveling to games.

Okay, so it’s a power struggle in which the government has now gotten involved.
Long story short, yes.

Hasn’t this been going on for a while?
Forever, it would seem.

That long story is that the problems stem from the failed T20 Global League in 2017, which saw the exit of then-CEO Haroon Lorgat. Enter Thabang Moroe, under whom CSA spiralled into several crises including a high-profile disagreement with the South African Cricketers Association, issues with broadcasters, and various governance issues. A forensic report found that Moroe had spent large amounts of board money on alcohol and service providers who did not deliver those services. Moroe has since been dismissed and the board that appointed him resigned (though some of them are still part of the members’ council because… see above). But the effects of his time in charge remain. CSA is facing serious financial losses that will run into millions of Rands.

In trying to sort out this mess – with the involvement of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committtee (don’t ask, but this might help) – South Africa’s sports minister Nathi Mthethwa has intervened. Last November, he imposed an interim board on CSA, which was tasked with, among other things, putting in place the framework for a majority independent board. Which brings us back to today.

You said something about a government gazette needing to be published for this to happen…
Yes, in theory, CSA continues to be the officially recognised governing body for cricket in South Africa until the gazette carrying the minister’s acts is published. That usually happens on Fridays, which means that April 30th (next Friday) is the date when CSA could officially ceases to be recognised. Things could change between now and then, of course, because it’s possible that the members’ council agrees to that board composition within the week, but we’re right at the very edge.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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India set to name squads for England Tests, WTC final over the weekend




The selectors are expected to pick an enlarged squad with enough reserves to cater for any contingency

The Indian squads for both the World Test Championship final and the five-Test England series are set to be picked over the weekend. It is understood that the Virat Kohli-lead Indian squad is likely to depart for England on June 2.

Keeping in mind the extensive length of the tour, spanning between June and mid-September, the selectors are expected to pick an enlarged squad with enough reserves to cater for any contingency. Even the ICC recently approved increasing the squad strength from 23 to 30 (including support staff) for global events during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Covid-19 in Pakistan – PCB approaches Emirates Cricket Board to host remainder of PSL 2021 in the UAE




The franchises had requested the PCB to shift the games out of Karachi because of the pandemic

The PCB has approached the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) to host the remaining games of the rescheduled 2021 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the UAE. The original plan had been to play the matches in Karachi, but the PCB has decided against it following a request from the six franchises as well as advice from the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC), which asked the board to avoid playing in Karachi because of the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country.

Upon the franchises’ request to move the matches out of Pakistan, the PCB met with all the teams via video conference to discuss the financial implications of postponing the tournament. The PCB has agreed to look beyond Karachi, with UAE as a preferred venue for the games. The UAE was where the PSL began, its inaugural edition in 2016 held there while international cricket was not taking place in Pakistan.

Karachi had originally been announced as the venue for the tournament and even till last week, the PCB was proceeding on the basis that tournament would be held there, with the board making arrangements for a hotel. But earlier this week, the PCB met with the NCOC, whose forecast of the Covid situation in Pakistan over the next 20 days wasn’t reassuring. The NCOC informed the PCB there might be a rise in cases post-Eid, and that the government might subsequently enforce a stricter lockdown in the country. Already a nationwide lockdown has begun from today, to be in place until May 15.

“We had an interactive and productive meeting in which we considered a number of factors,” Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, said. “While the UAE has emerged as a preferred venue, a number of challenges remain, which will be worked through over the coming days. We remain committed to doing everything possible to complete the HBL PSL 6.”

The tournament was initially slated to start from June, but with the change of venue, the PCB will work on a revised schedule. The window to host the tournament is unlikely to alter too much though, as Pakistan are scheduled to begin a tour of England from June 23. Though the PCB and PSL have both agreed to playing in UAE, a final confirmation will be made only when the franchises give their approval upon seeing the revised opportunity costs of playing abroad.

“The PCB will carry out a detailed financial and risk assessment as well as cost analysis before reporting back to the franchises, who will then review before a decision on the event venue is confirmed,” the PCB said.

As reported by ESPNcricinfo, the franchises had written a letter to the board last week, asking for the tournament to be played in the Emirates.

The 2021 edition of the PSL was suspended after 14 games – played between February 20 and March 3, all in Karachi – following an outbreak of cases among players and support staff. After a date for resumption was finalised – June 2 to June 20 – the franchises took part in a replacement draft to plug holes in their line-ups because a number of overseas players would not be able to take part in the games on the new dates.

The changed situation with the pandemic, however, made franchises nervous about the situation, which led to them approaching the PCB.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has announced a decision to curtail inbound flights to the country from May 5 to May 20.

A move to the UAE would not be without its own logistical and operational issues, though. Flights to the country from Pakistan are currently operating at a severely reduced frequency. And June is not a month in which top-level cricket is often played in the UAE, because of the oppressive heat at that time of the year.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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No Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav in India’s squad of 20 for WTC final and England Tests



There is no room for Hardik Pandya or Kuldeep Yadav in India’s squad of 20 players, including two players – KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha – subject to “fitness clearance”, for the final of the World Test Championship against New Zealand and the subsequent five-Test series against England. Pandya and Kuldeep aren’t among the four standby players either.

India will play the WTC final from June 18 to 22 in Southampton and the Test series against England from August 4, starting in Nottingham, to September 14, with the last Test scheduled for Manchester.

Virat Kohli’s side is expected to leave for England on June 2, and keeping in mind the length of the tour as well as possible contingencies because of the Covid-19 pandemic, India are carrying a total of 24 players, their reserves’ list containing Abhimanyu Easwaran, the opening batter, and three fast bowlers: Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan and Arzan Nagwaswalla.

Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari returned to the squad after missing the recent home Tests against England because of their respective injuries.

Rahul underwent surgery for appendicitis in early May after he complained of “severe abdomen pain” during the IPL. At the time, the doctors were understood to have told the Punjab Kings that Rahul would be able to resume all activity in a week’s time.

Saha, the other player who has to prove his fitness in time for the tour, tested positive for Covid-19 on May 4, the same day the IPL was postponed indefinitely. Saha, who was a part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad, is still in Delhi, where he returned the positive test. It is understood that he will have to undergo 14 days in isolation and be able to move out only after a negative test.

Of the players dropped from the squad that played against England at home earlier this year, Pandya did have a question mark over him since he has not bowled regularly for some time now, with Kohli saying he wanted to preserve Pandya the bowler for the Tests in England. He had a shoulder niggle during the IPL, and didn’t bowl at all in the seven matches he played for the Mumbai Indians. He did, however, bowl a nine-over burst in the third and final ODI against England.

As for Kuldeep, while he has been a part of the India squad recently, he has not had many games. Of his seven Tests, he has played only one in the last two years – the second Test against England in February this year – in which he got to bowl just 12.2 overs overall, returning 0 for 16 and 2 for 25 as India won by 317 runs. He could have also been left out because the two spinners picked ahead of him – Axar Patel and Washington Sundar – provide better batting options and shorten India’s tail.

With Patel making a big splash on Test debut in the England series with a haul of 27 wickets from three games and India mostly preferring one or both of R Ashwin and Jadeja, depending on conditions, Kuldeep’s chances of making the cut took a hit.

Among the opening batters, India have the options of Mayank Agarwal and Rahul, who can also double up as middle-order batters should the need arise, apart from the first-choice pair of Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. Vihari returned after the hamstring injury he sustained in Sydney and is currently representing Warwickshire in the County Championship in England.

For fast-bowling options, the selectors included Shardul Thakur and Umesh Yadav ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been facing injury issues recently, apart from the more obvious names of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Shami and Mohammed Siraj.

Before the latest Covid-19 surge in India which led to the UK government putting India on the red list in April, the BCCI was looking at picking two separate squads with the first batch meant for the WTC final and the second leaving closer to the England tour. That had to change once the circumstances changed.

In April, the ECB had announced that the Indians would be arriving with an inflated squad and would play two intra-squad practice matches in July. Those two matches replaced the original warm-up schedule of four-day fixtures between the Indians and India A in July. The ECB, in agreement with BCCI, had postponed the India A tour because of the pandemic.

Squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-capt), Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, KL Rahul (subject to fitness clearance), Wriddhiman Saha (wk; subject to fitness clearance). Standby players: Abhimanyu Easwaran, Prasidh Krishna, Avesh Khan, Arzan Nagwaswalla

Shamya Dasgupta is senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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