Lorgat victim of CSA power struggle – claim

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

HAROON Lorgat has been cast as a victim of a power struggle within Cricket South Africa (CSA), whose corridors are said to be fraught with fear, loathing and bitter division in the wake of his sacking as chief executive.

Lorgat was fired on Thursday, which has prompted conciliatory comments from the former employee as well as his former employers.

But, Times Media has learnt, there is concern that the axe was if not wielded then set in motion by a close-knit group of administrators bent on ousting and replacing him from their ranks, or appointing an acolyte.

CSA vice-president Thabang Moroe will serve as acting chief executive with president Chris Nenzani expected to hold a press conference on the issue next week.

Asked how he was finding the job, Moroe said on Friday, “Difficult given the circumstances that I came into it, and given what needs to be done to steer the ship back into the right direction and into calmer waters.”

He was, however, confident that CSA were “very capable” of doing so.

Moroe was reluctant to comment further: “I’d love nothing more than to give you facts but at the moment, given the that we’re still in negotiations with [Lorgat] over his package, I can’t.”

More light, he said, would be shed at Nenzani’s press conference: “I hope that we can be as candid as we possibly can to clear the air.”

Lorgat and CSA’s chief financial officer, Nassei Appiah, have been at loggerheads for some time over claims that the professional arm of the organisation was not sufficiently racially transformed.

Blacks are well-represented at CSA, but less so black African women while several senior positions are held by white men.

A grievance was launched in the last two months of 2016, and led to the appointment of Lindiwe Ndziba, a black African woman, as CSA’s company secretary.

But part of the resolution of the episode was that the board need to, a source said, “sit down with Nassei and point out where he went wrong and remedy that”.

The fallout of the saga, insiders say, was a breakdown of trust between Lorgat and Appiah — which led to the latter being excluded from important structures and decisions concerning the establishment of the T20 Global League (T20GL).

A source spoke of “a whole host of reasons that related to governance and decisions taken on behalf of the company” that had led to the board taking action against Lorgat.

At least some of those, it is believed, are tied to the T20GL, which is scheduled to be played in November and December.

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Sacked Lorgat skillfully spins saga

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

HAROON Lorgat, a respected fast bowler in his playing days, became a skillful spinner on Friday — not of a cricket ball, but of words.

Lorgat used 586 of them in what was released as a “personal statement” to try and paint his tenure as Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) chief executive in the most glowing light possible.

So much so that many will wonder why CSA sacked Lorgat on Thursday.

“Dear CSA staff, cricket family and stakeholders; friends and the media,” Lorgat begins.

“By now you would have learnt the news that I have agreed with the CSA board to step down as the chief executive of CSA.

“It’s been a tough few days as I faced the prospect of moving on from my role at CSA at a time when cricket in this country is strong and entering an exciting new era with the forthcoming T20 Global League [T20GL].”

That would be the same tournament that is losing money, has seen a change in the ownership of one of its franchises and awkward questions asked about the suitability of other owners, and has yet to announce a broadcaster with just more than a month to go before it is supposed to start.

“Having worked hard since [January 2016] and to the very best of my abilities, we are all very pleased with the impressive set of team owners and players already in place,” Lorgat continues. “I believe we will succeed to be among the best leagues in the world.

“Sadly though, it is time for me to move on and for someone else to lead the rest of this incredible journey as we are only weeks away from the start of the competition.”

Are CSA’s board also sad?

“We recently tried on a few occasions to remedy the situation between Mr Lorgat and the board, but we have not been successful in finding a satisfactory resolution,” CSA president Chris Nenzani was quoted as saying in a release on Thursday.

“The board unanimously felt that it was in the best interest of the organisation that we agreed to a mutual separation agreement with Mr Lorgat.”

But Lorgat would seem to think he has done CSA a favour — both by taking the job and by the timing of his inglorious exit.

“The [T20GL] is just one of many success stories I feel privileged to have been a part of since my appointment as the CSA chief executive in July 2013,” Lorgat writes.

“Even though challenging, I have really enjoyed my time at the helm of what is now a vibrant and sustainable organisation that boasts enviable talent across all administrative and operational spheres.

“When I look back and reflect on what I stepped into in 2013, I can certainly feel proud of the gigantic steps we have taken to make Cricket SA recognised by others as the best run sports federation on the continent …

“I am pleased to leave CSA in a solid state and a lot better than when I entered it. I know that I have served the sport with great respect, commitment, dedication and passion and the results on and off the field bear testimony to that …

“Adios!”

Adios? Who was that masked man?

Lorgat’s CSA tenure: cloudy with a chance of pitfalls

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

Haroon Lorgat came to Cricket South Africa (CSA) under a cloud, generated another almost immediately, and is leaving under still another.

July 2013

Lorgat is appointed CSA’s chief executive in the wake of the bonus scandal and the partial restructure of the board that followed — and against the express wishes of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who have beef with Lorgat going back to his tenure as International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive.

November 2013

The BCCI hack India’s tour to South Africa from 12 to seven matches, a move widely seen as retribution for CSA’s insistence on appointing Lorgat. As a result CSA lose R218-million in revenue.

March 2014

Lorgat is cleared by an ICC investigation into his conduct despite admitting to promising a journalist an interview in return for not writing a story Lorgat did not want published.

October 2014

CSA launch their “improved national excellence programme”, the result an intensive plan to restructure the game at all levels. Lorgat leads the initiative, which aims to significantly streamline the efficiency of the way cricket is run, coached, played and transformed in South Africa.

March 2015

After South Africa’s loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final in Auckland, it emerges in the press that South Africa were forced to include a fourth player of colour. Lorgat repeatedly denies this was done, then concedes to being “consulted”.

July 2015

Lorgat’s contract as CSA chief executive is extended by three years until July 2019.

May 2017

Lorgat is honoured for his “Leadership in Sport Business” at the “Sport Industry Awards”.

“I think my success is attributed to the team, our whole company,” he says in accepting his award.

June 2017

Lorgat looms large at the launch of the T20 Global League (T20GL), which is held at great expense in London. Former players are flown in from South Africa specifically for the function, some with no idea why they are present. Journalists have also been transported and accommodated on CSA money.

August 2017

Brimstone Investments, who were announced as a T20GL franchise owner at the London launch, pull out of the tournament — a decision Lorgat terms a “personal disappointment” but says of reporting of the issue that, “There are a lot of mischief-makers out there.”

Why did Brimstone pull the plug? “We follow a rigorous investment process,” their chief executive, Mustaq Brey, said in a statement. “This venture had to undergo the same process and be tested against our standard investment criteria as all other investment proposals.”

September 2017

Bollywood bauble Preity Zinta steps in to buy the franchise Brimstone washed their hands of, saying she had “bumped into Haroon in a hotel [in Dubai] and that was pretty much it – it was an overnight decision”.

September 2017

Lorgat brags that he “could have sold these [T20GL] broadcast rights 12 months ago … so we’re in no rush to go and do something and then say we shouldn’t have”.

But, 36 days before the tournament is scheduled to start, a broadcast deal is not yet announced and insiders say franchise owners are worried at the lack of progress on nailing it down.

September 2017

After Lorgat meets with T20GL franchise owners in Dubai and negotiations with prospective broadcasters in Mumbai — all in the space of a few days — CSA announce that they and Lorgat have “mutually agreed to part ways with immediate effect”.

A release attributed to CSA president Chris Nenzani the explanation that “the reason was due to a breakdown in the relationship between the board and the chief executive”.

The fact that Lorgat and CSA chief financial officer Nassei Appiah are at loggerheads, not least over Appiah’s exclusion from major decision-making regarding the T20GL, is seen as key to Lorgat’s demise.

SuperSport ‘walked out’ of meeting with T20GL rights agents

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

WITH the countdown to the start of the T20 Global League (T20GL) ticking relentlessly, a broadcast deal has yet to be announced.

That will worry franchise owners who have invested millions in the tournament and will know that it is likely to be declared dead in the water if it is not easily available to viewers around the world.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) remain in protracted negotiations with SuperSport, but the fact that then CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat was in Mumbai on Monday — “to engage in discussions with potential broadcasters”, according to the Times of India — could mean talks with the local network have broken down.

Worse yet, as Times Media revealed on Thursday, Lorgat has been sacked by CSA with his handling of the T20GL’s affairs a key reason for the board’s reported dissatisfaction with him.

And all that with the first ball in the opening match, between the Cape Town Knight Riders and the Pretoria Mavericks, scheduled to be bowled at Newlands on November 3, or 35 days from Friday.

CSA’s longstanding relationship with SuperSport seems to have been damaged by the intervention of Ortus Sport and Entertainment, who have been entrusted with the sole agency of selling the tournament broadcast rights.

Sources have told Times Media that SuperSport’s legal and commercial experts walked out of a meeting with Ortus after hearing the latter’s demands.

A difference of opinion over the rights could be at the heart of the dispute. CSA and by extension Ortus seem to argue that the T20GL rights are not covered by the existing contract with SuperSport and are thus up for sale. SuperSport apparently believe they already own the rights and should not have to buy them.

Questions have been asked about Ortus’ involvement. The company was formed in April by Venu Nair, who in February left French media giant Largardere to set up the new firm.

CSA had apparently promised Largardere the contract to sell the rights, albeit without a comprehensive tender process.

Previously, the International Management Group would sell CSA’s properties to media buyers.

Durban dumped for India tests

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

THIS summer, for the first time since South Africa’s re-admission to test cricket 25 years ago, Kingsmead will not host India in a home series of at least three matches.

The itinerary for India’s tour, which was finally announced on Wednesday, includes neither a Boxing Day nor a New Year test — both firm fixtures on the South African calendar.

Instead, India will start the series at Newlands on January 5 before playing in Centurion and at the Wanderers.

That’s one fewer test than they were set to play, but a one-day international has been added to the schedule.

“With the shortened tour it was a tricky one for [Cricket South Africa] to sort out,” Dolphins chief executive Heinrich Strydom said. “We just want to serve cricket as best as we can.”

Subjecting the Indians to consecutive tests on the harder, faster Highveld pitches could be interpreted as South Africa’s reaction to the diabolical surfaces they were forced to play on in India in 2015.

Leaving Kingsmead out of the equation could also be a tactical ploy: South Africa have won only four of the nine tests they have played there against Asian opposition.

Durban’s slower pitches might thus be seen as having played into sub-continent teams’ hands, and the significant support those sides tend to receive from the city’s large Asian community won’t have helped the ground’s cause.

But it will no doubt sting that community that a venue that staged South Africa’s first home test after isolation, against India in November 1992, would seem to have been at best ignored and at worst snubbed. A CSA release on Wednesday did not give reasons for the decision.

The only other time on a tour of South Africa that India did not play a test in Durban was in November 2001, when only two matches were scheduled — in Bloemfontein and at St George’s Park.

This summer Kingsmead will have to be satisfied with a mere ODI out of the 12 matches India will play in South Africa.

If Kingsmead is on the swings, Centurion is on the roundabouts. In addition to the second test the latter will host two ODIs and a T20.

India’s women’s team will also visit South Africa this season to play three ODIs and five T20s, the last three of the latter as part of a double-header with the men’s fixtures.

India tour itineraries:

Men:

Dec 30 and 31: tour match, Paarl

Jan 5 to 9: 1st test, Newlands

Jan 13 to 17: 2nd test, Centurion

Jan 24 to 28: 3rd test, the Wanderers

Feb 1: 1st ODI, Kingsmead

Feb 4:  2nd ODI, Centurion

Feb 7: 3rd ODI, Newlands

Feb 10: 4th ODI, the Wanderers

Feb 13: 5th ODI, St George’s Park

Feb 16: 6th ODI, Centurion

Feb 18: 1st T20, the Wanderers

Feb 21: 2nd T20, Centurion

Feb 24: 3rd T20, Newlands

Women:

Feb 2: tour match, Bloemfontein

Feb 5: 1st ODI, Kimberley

Feb 7: 2nd ODI, Kimberley

Feb 10: 3rd ODI, Potchefstroom

Feb 13: 1st T20, Potchefstroom

Feb 16: 2nd T20, East London

Feb 18: 3rd T20, the Wanderers

Feb 21: 4th T20, Centurion

Feb 24: 5th T20, Newlands

SA hold all the aces against Bangladesh

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Potchefstroom

THAT South Africa have dominated Bangladesh in test cricket is no surprise, but the degree to which they have done so is worth examination.

The closest Bangladesh have come to beating South Africa in the 10 tests they have contested since their inaugural clash in October 2002 was in July 2015, when both matches were drawn.

But rain allowed only 221.1 overs to be bowled in those Chittagong and Dhaka games, which were scheduled for a minimum of 900.

For the rest, the traffic has been emphatically one-way. Seven of South Africa’s eight victories have been achieved by an innings. The other, in Dhaka in February 2008, when only one of the four innings topped 200, went their way by five wickets.

South Africa are among four teams — India, New Zealand and Pakistan are the others — who have yet to lose to Bangladesh.

Of those only New Zealand have played more tests against the Bangladeshis, but the Kiwis and Pakistanis have beaten them more often than South Africa.

Only Zimbabwe, who have lost seven of their eight tests against South Africa, are more abject whipping boys for the Proteas.

Graeme Smith twice scored double centuries against Bangladesh, while Neil McKenzie and Jacques Rudolph bagged a double-hundred each.

Nine five-wicket hauls have been claimed by South Africans against them, six by fast bowlers. But left-arm wrist spinner Paul Adams is the only Saffer who has taken 10: for 106 in Chittagong in April 2003.

No Bangladeshi has made a century against South Africa — Habibul Bashar’s 75 in Chittagong in 2003 is their best effort, and only once have a pair of their batsmen shared a century-stand — but they have taken four five-wicket hauls.

None of which might mean much in the context of Bangladesh’s rise as a test team who have beaten England, Sri Lanka and Australia in the past 11 months.

But all of those successes were earned on the sub-continent, and with the help of star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan — who has been rested for this series.

South Africa, then, hold all the aces in Potch. But what a fairytale it would be if Bangladesh found a way to win.

New rules won’t curb bad behaviour

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE in Johannesburg

FIERY fast bowlers letting fly at dashing or defiant batsmen is the most compelling part of test cricket’s plot, the distillation of the game to its elemental duel.

Loosed from the ridiculous and unfair constraints they are forced to abide by in limited overs cricket, the quicks are able to unleash with disciplined abandon — and sharp words and body language — when the captain lobs them a red ball.

Fast bowlers who read are a rare breed, but those who do and study the regulations that will be part of their reality from Thursday might wonder whether cricket wasn’t trying to douse their fire.

The bad news is that umpires will have the authority to banish players from the field.

The good news is that, to earn a sending off, players will have to commit what constitutes a level four offence under the code of conduct.

So anything short of “threatening to assault an umpire, making inappropriate and deliberate physical contact with an umpire, physically assaulting a player or any other person and committing any other act of violence”, in the words of an International Cricket Council release on Tuesday, shouldn’t lead to an early shower.

That’s enough leeway to allow the confrontations between batsmen and bowlers to retain the spice essential to cricket’s character.

But it also means the new rules are unlikely to curb less savoury aspects of player behaviour.

Referees have been brandishing cards for decades but footballers remain comfortably the worst behaved of all sport’s men and women.

And football’s not the only game that can’t control its brats: anyone for tennis’ tantrum tosser Nick Kyrgios?

The guinea pigs for cricket’s new measures, which will apply across all formats, will be South Africa and Bangladesh, who start their test series in Potchefstroom on Thursday, and Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who clash in the United Arab Emirates on the same day.

Unusually for instances of regulation-tinkering, the bowlers have also won a concession.

“To maintain the balance between bat and ball the playing conditions now restrict the size of the edges of the bats as well as their thickness,” the release says.

“The restriction on the length and width of bats remain unchanged but the thickness of the edges can’t be more than 40 millimetres and the overall depth can be 67 millimetres at the most.”

Umpires, who take the field carrying everything from notebooks to nail scissors in their pockets, will have an exciting bit of kit to flaunt: “Umpires will be issued with a new bat gauge, which they can use to check a bat’s legality.”

Sensibility has prevailed in that “… a review will now not be lost in case of a decision that remains unchanged solely as the result of an ‘umpire’s call’”.

More evidence of sound thinking is that a bat that has bounced into the air at the moment the wicket is broken — after being grounded when the wicket was intact — will no longer mean batsmen have been run out or stumped.

But a decision to permit the use of the decision review system in T20s can only rob the format of some of its trademark freneticism.