SJN Hearings: ’Horrible mistake’ when Cricket South Africa was too white at the top
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Johannesburg - Cricket South Africa’s former acting CEO Jacques Faul said the presence of five white males in senior positions in the organisation and with the national men’s team in 2019 was a “horrible” mistake.
Faul was testifying at CSA’s Social Justice and Nation Building hearings on Thursday and explained that criticism of CSA from the public and Sports Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, about high profile positions being held by white males in late 2019 through to early 2020, was justified.
Faul was one of those males; along with Graeme Smith, then newly appointed as Director of Cricket, Mark Boucher, who was head coach of the Proteas and then Jacques Kallis and Paul Harris, who were two high profile consultants Boucher had called upon to work with the Proteas for the series against England that season.
“That is where we got it horribly wrong,” Faul told the SJN. “The optics of it were totally wrong. We should have been politically more sensitive about it. Mr Kallis and Mr Harris would provide great cricket input, but this is the country we live in, where we have to be careful with it.
“You’ve got to be sensitive with that. There were too many white people in senior positions in a very short period of time. We did not anticipate the outcry.”
The appointments came during a chaotic period for Cricket SA, with administrative upheaval following the suspension of Thabang Moroe as CEO, the resignation of three independent directors on the board and the revoking of the accreditation of five journalists.
The remaining members of CSA’s Board at the time scrambled to appoint Faul, and also agreed that Smith would take over as Director of Cricket, albeit on a temporary basis at the time.
With the England tour just weeks away, Smith had to appoint a new coaching staff for the Proteas. Following the World Cup earlier that year, CSA had embarked on a new structure for the national team, with the Director of Cricket at the head of the triangle. But in the months following the World Cup, up to England’s arrival no permanent appointments were made.
Instead Enoch Nkwe was made interim acting manager (effectively a head coach) for the tour to India and following that trip, as Faul testified, had no communication from anyone at CSA, until Faul was appointed in December.
Faul said that his first interaction with Nkwe was to tell him that he wasn’t being considered for the head coach’s position. “Enoch was really hurt by not being asked to be head coach,” said Faul. “And that is perfectly understandable, anyone would naturally feel that if they were an interim coach as he was for the India tour, they deserved to be head coach.”
That didn’t happen, instead Boucher was appointed by Smith, in circumstances that Faul described as being far from ideal. “You would like to have had a process, where the job is advertised, it is transparent, but it was left so late, before that England series. You couldn’t have another interim coach, you just had an interim coach.”
Faul said that while there was a lot of blame thrown in Smith’s direction - with accusations that he was appointing a friend as Proteas coach - the Board of CSA at the time also bore responsibility.
“You will need to ask Smith, he made the appointment - if he appointed (Boucher) because he was his friend,” Faul said.
“But the Board also approved it, it wasn’t Smith alone that said ‘I want Boucher.’ The Board had overview. It’s within the Board’s right to say, ‘Boucher doesn’t have qualifications, Boucher is only being appointed because he’s your friend.’ The questions you’re now asking,” Faul told the SJN, “(the Board) didn’t ask.”
Instead the Board, at the time chaired by Chris Nenzani, approved Boucher’s appointment and the granting of a four year contract, even though at the time, Smith was only on a three month contract as interim Director of Cricket.
“There was only one objection, from a Board member, Angelo Carolissen, about the fact that Smith, who was interim, was appointing people for four years.”
Faul said that Professor Steve Cornelius, one of just two independent directors serving on the Board, said it was “best practice and had to be backed. The Board backed it. Boucher’s appointment was approved by the Board.”
The hearings continue on Friday.