South African cricket is set to wallow in the depths of mediocrity for at least another 10 years. There is a dearth of young talent coming through the ranks. The best hopes in the current men’s elite team are already overworked. And Cricket South Africa (CSA), the administrator of the game in the country, is laughably hapless.
Set to record a loss of R654-million over its next four-year financial cycle, CSA’s financial woes are perhaps unsurprising. After all, the economy is moribund and government funding is not as readily available as it once was. And then there’s also the small matter of broadcasters’ business models being in flux. So, there must be some sympathy for the board of CSA — whoever is left on it after this weekend’s high stakes meeting — and its chief executive Thabang Moroe.
But the fact is that CSA’s financial woes are not actually its biggest problem. Rather, it’s the lack of transparency, which CSA appears to now prefer. When five cricket journalists had their accreditation summarily revoked by CSA last weekend, it was an overreaction better suited to politicians with fascist leanings.
CSA said the move to bar these journalists was in response to unfair coverage. Moroe said the journalists had all failed to properly consider CSA’s side of the story in their coverage of some of the recent controversies surrounding the running of cricket in South Africa. It was an extraordinary step. And the backlash against the move appears to have properly spooked Moroe & Co.
But what the outcry should do is remind Moroe, CSA and anyone else with similar impulses, that the free flow of information is not an optional extra to their existence. It’s not just cricket. It’s our constitutional right.