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South Africa SJN hearings – Graeme Smith’s appointment explained as SJN hearings come to an end

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Graeme Smith‘s appointment as director of cricket was not irregular but ratified by the Cricket South Africa (CSA) board, and made in the hopes of stopping the organisation’s slide as they suffered severe reputational damage in the aftermath of the Thabang Moroe era. Acting CEO Pholetsi Moseki told the Social Justice and Nation-Building Hearings that Smith was courted by former CEO Moroe and his appointment was confirmed by former president Chris Nenzani.

Smith’s appointment and the era of his captaincy have been a key talking point of the SJN, with accusations of a toxic team culture and allegations of irregularities in his appointment as an administrator. Moseki, the last witness to testify before the ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza, detailed the process by which Smith was courted and then appointed, the entire process ratified by the board at the time.

Smith was named interim DOC in 2019, after Moroe’s suspension and Dr Jacques Faul’s insertion as acting CEO. While Faul has since conceded that the elevation of several white men to senior positions at CSA created poor optics, Moseki explained that it was not Faul who hired Smith, but the previous CEO and board.

According to Moseki, who was CSA’s CFO at the time, Moroe and Smith had been in discussions for several weeks before Moroe’s suspension, during which time CSA had advertised and interviewed four candidates for the job, including Smith. In essence, Smith was headhunted, and CSA’s lawyer Aslam Moosajee said that did not differ from the process at most corporate organisations.

Before Moroe was suspended, Smith withdrew his interest in the position because “the process was dragging on for too long and Mr Smith got frustrated,” Moseki said. On November 14 2019, Smith issued a statement saying he lacked confidence in the administration and no longer wanted the job.

But Smith was re-engaged by Nenzani after Moroe’s suspension, and it was Nenzani who persuaded Smith to reconsider. The board then ratified that appointment, in an interim capacity for four months, in the hopes that Smith could help save face in the midst of an administrative meltdown.

“Mr Smith had been a Protea team captain for 11 years,” Moseki explained. “He has an extensive local and international reputation which CSA considered quite valuable and might be commercially valuable as well. CSA was in quite a precarious position. There was ongoing political infighting. It’s decision to revoke the journalists accreditation was quite a hot potato then, and having lost Standard Bank and with other sponsors threatening to pull out, the reputation of the company was severely damaged. The board believed that Mr Smith’s appointment would assist to revive the company’s tarnished reputation and would help to revive cricket in South Africa.”

The only change from the first discussions CSA had with Smith to the ones they concluded when he was appointed was his salary. Smith had gone from asking for an annual salary of R4 million (approx. US$262,669) to R5.4 million. Moseki said the increase was explained to CSA as being “because he (Smith) is already in deficit, having lost other revenue.”

Smith’s initial appointment was for four months until the end of March 2020 but he is now permanently engaged as an independent contractor to CSA, not an employee. This is because Smith wanted to leave room for the opportunity to undertake other commitments, such as media work. Initially, Smith’s permanent contract contained “a clause that said Mr Smith has a right to terminate the contract on reasonable notice if Dr Faul is not appointed as CEO,” Moseki said. “We at CSA were not happy with that and the clause was removed.” Smith has since worked under two other acting CEOs, Kugandrie Govender and Moseki.

However, Smith’s status as a contractor and not an employee is not the reason he will not give oral testimony to the SJN. Smith has submitted a written affidavit, but is understood to have wanted to wait to see how other respondents – of which Faul has been one – were received at the hearings. With the hearings concluding on Friday, there is no longer any time for anyone else to appear. The ombudsman will have the month of November to compile his report.

The eight-month long hearings have cost the organisation almost as much as Smith’s annual salary. ESPNcricinfo understands that CSA have spent R5 million (approx. US$328,337) on the SJN while Moseki confirmed Smith earns R5.4 million (approx. (US$354,000) annually and is CSA’s highest paid employee.

The SJN hearings were extended for two months after respondents, including Smith, requested more time to prepare following allegations made by a wide range of stakeholders including former players, coaches and administrators. The entire process has been at CSA’s expense, even though they reported a R221 million (approx. US$14.5 million) loss at their AGM earlier this month. However, board chair Lawson Naidoo called the process “necessary,” in order to take cricket into the future “It is only by recognising the discrimination in our past that we can chart the way forward.”

In his closing address, Naidoo said CSA, “have noted with real concern and a great deal of heartache some of the experiences of those who have testified. What is clear is that some of that testimony, if indeed it is accepted, reflected conduct that has no place in a society based on human dignity and equality. The need for these issues to be ventilated confirms the critical need for this SJN process.”

While CSA’s board will not comment until after they have received the ombudsman’s report, Naidoo identified five critical issues from the testimony that the board have identified as requiring their attention in future. They are:

  • The question of the system for remuneration of players and, in particular, the concerns around remuneration of non-playing members of Proteas squads, which was raised specifically by Aaron Phangiso
  • The need for greater clarity and certainty around selection policies which came up, in particular, the case of Khaya Zondo
  • The processes and systems for the appointments of senior CSA officials, such as Smith’s, which is detailed above
  • A system or process for dealing with concerns from players or officials who suffer unfair discrimination, something mentioned by the likes of Loots Bosman, Roger Telemachus and Ashwell Prince
  • The need to develop cricket at school and club level that ensures that every South African who wishes to play cricket has the opportunity to do so, and to have her or his talent and passion nurtured and developed
  • Naidoo concluded by emphasising the SJN’s role in highlighting cricket’s biggest issues.

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent



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    BBL 2021-22 – Chris Jordan jets into Sydney Sixers squad as replacement for Carlos Brathwaite

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    Jordan set to play for his fourth BBL club after Brathwaite is ruled out of the tournament due to shoulder surgery

    Two-time defending BBL champions Sydney Sixers have pulled off a coup signing England quick Chris Jordan as an international replacement for Carlos Brathwaite after the West Indian was ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

    Brathwaite has undergone surgery and is unavailable for the entire BBL. Jordan has been signed at short notice to bolster Sixers’ squad alongside fellow England internationals James Vince and Tom Curran.

    Jordan has previously played for three different BBL clubs in three different seasons, starting at Adelaide Strikers in 2016-17 before a short stint with Sydney Thunder in 2018-19. He played almost a full season with Perth Scorchers in 2019-20 before having to leave the tournament late due to international duty.

    Jordan comes off a T20 World Cup where he was arguably England’s best seamer claiming six wickets at an economy rate of 6.84. Cricket NSW Head of Male Cricket Michael Klinger, who oversees Sixers’ list management, said Jordan was a valuable addition.

    “It’s disappointing for Carlos and the group that he has succumbed to injury but Chris is a world-class T20 cricketer and will provide the Sixers with fantastic versatility and high-quality skills in all three aspects of the game,” Klinger said.

    “His death bowling and changeups, as well as being one of the world’s best fielders, will be a huge asset for the Sixers early in the BBL.

    “He is experienced in playing in the BBL and has been previously successful in this tournament.

    “I know Greg Shipperd (Sixers coach) and the rest of the coaching staff are very excited to have Chris on board.”

    Sixers will open their new campaign on Sunday, December 5 against Melbourne Stars at the SCG.

    Sydney Sixers squad: Moises Henriques (c), Sean Abbott, Jackson Bird, Daniel Christian, Tom Curran (Eng), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Daniel Hughes, Chris Jordan (Eng), Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Ben Manenti, Stephen O’Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk, James Vince (Eng)



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    South Africa vs Netherlands 2021

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    Although Netherlands are unable to catch a flight out, it is understood the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play

    The second and third ODIs between South Africa and Netherlands have been postponed after concerns around a new Coronavirus variant, Omicron. The first match in the series, which forms part of the World Cup Super League, was washed out on Friday, leaving the teams sharing five points each. That keeps Netherlands in last place on the points table, and South Africa in ninth, outside the automatic qualification zone.

    Although Netherlands will be in South Africa for the duration of the series because they are unable to catch a flight out, ESPNcricinfo understands that the players have communicated they are not in the right mental state to play. On Friday, their coach Ryan Campbell tweeted that the team played with “unbelievable pressure hanging over their heads,” after travel restrictions began to affect the southern African region.

    “We are disappointed by the unfortunate situation we find ourselves in, but the comfort of all visiting teams must always be paramount,” Pholetsi Moseki, CSA’s acting CEO, said. “The mental well-being of players is one of CSA’s top priorities, and we respect our visitors’ position and point of view.

    “CSA and KNCB will get into discussions around possibly rescheduling the tour within this cycle of the ICC Future Tours Programme ending in 2023.”

    “We are saddened by these circumstances, but are grateful to Cricket South Africa for their assistance and understanding of our team’s position,” Jurgen Delfos, chairman of Netherlands cricket board, said. “

    It must be made clear that the concerns are strictly over travel issues and how soon the team can get home and have nothing to do with the integrity of the Bio-Secure Environment (BSE) that CSA has successfully hosted. Our team has been pleased with every aspect of the organisation of the tour and have been well treated by our hosts.”

    The United Kingdom, United States, much of Europe, Australia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand have all banned travel to and from countries in southern Africa, and imposed a quarantine on their own citizens returning from the region in response to Omicron.

    News of a new variant was first made public on Tuesday, November 23 and cases in the Gauteng province of South Africa, where the Netherlands series is taking place, have increased severalfold since. Although South Africa is only reporting around 2,000 new cases a day, there are concerns this will rise exponentially and stricter restrictions are due to be introduced soon. South Africa is currently on Level 1 of 5 of its restrictions, the most lenient since the pandemic began, and the first ODI was the first time since March 2020 that cricket was played in front of a limited crowd, but the government is meeting on Saturday to discuss further measures.

    As yet there is no indication of how this will affect the rest of the cricket calendar. India A are also in South Africa, playing first-class matches against South Africa A in Bloemfontein. So far, that series is continuing. India’s senior side is due to travel to South Africa for three Tests, three ODIs and four ODIs on December 8. India has not imposed any restrictions on southern African travelers to date, but has stricter testing measures for people from the region in place.

    Last summer, South Africa’s season was severely impacted after England left the country early without playing the ODI leg of their white-ball tour and Australia pulled out of a four-Test series which was pencilled in as the marquee event of the summer. Sri Lanka and Pakistan both toured the country without incident in strict bio-bubble conditions, which Cricket South Africa will replicate for the India series.

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent





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    Recent Match Report – Scorchers Wm vs StrikersWmn Final 2021/22

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    The home side finished strongly with the bat and started superbly with the ball in the powerplay

    Perth Scorchers 5 for 146 beat Adelaide Strikers 6 for 134 by 12 runs

    Marizanne Kapp, who had been ill all week in the lead-up to the WBBL final and barely left her hotel room, produced a critical all-round display to help Perth Scorchers claim their maiden title as Adelaide Strikers’ powerful late-tournament surge came to a halt at Optus Stadium.
    In front of a crowd of 15,511, the highest for a standalone WBBL match, the defining passages of the match were how Scorchers finished their batting innings and then started with the ball: their final five overs brought 47 runs, with vital hands from Player of the Match Kapp and Alana King, then they restricted Strikers to 2 for 16 in their powerplay with Kapp’s first two overs costing just two runs and Sophie Devine producing a wicket maiden.

    The middle order did their best to keep Strikers in the match with useful hands but it proved out of reach despite Madeline Penna’s best efforts with 30 not out off 21 balls.

    Kapp produced some superb deliveries to build the pressure on Strikers’ openers and it was Devine who earned the reward when Katie Mack’s extraordinary run of scoring was halted as he she drove to cover. Before this match Mack had made 332 runs in her last six innings for just one out.

    Without a run added van Niekerk also departed, edging Taneale Peschel down the leg side, and by the end of the powerplay the asking rate was above nine an over.

    Laura Wolvaardt and captain Tahlia McGrath rebuilt with a stand of 65 in eight overs which was forming a base from where Strikers could have run down the target. However, both fell within the space of six balls carving catches to the off-side ring which meant new batters had little time to get set.

    The prolific Scorchers opening pair of Devine and Beth Mooney made a solid if unspectacular start after being put into bat, reaching 0 for 37 after the powerplay. They were immediately aggressive against Amanda-Jade Wellington who conceded more in her first four balls than she did the entire record-breaking Eliminator spell, although she would fight back well.

    Neither opener could really cut loose and Strikers started to chip away at the top order. Mooney picked out mid-off, Devine was run out by a direct hit by Dane van Niekerk from short third and Chloe Piparo edged Darcie Brown who was rewarded for some rapid outswing bowling.

    At 3 for 75 in the 12th the innings was at a tipping point and there was caution from Kapp and Heather Graham which threatened to leave Scorchers short. However, Kapp started to find the boundary and King made a dynamic late entrance with three boundaries in a five-ball stay.

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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