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Moroe’s ‘654’ causing heaps of stress in SA

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Having 12 provinces will be cheaper apparently. Players’ salaries, according to the chief financial officer, Ziyanda Nkuta, won’t be affected by this belt-tightening

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“The 654.” That’s what Cricket South Africa’s chief executive, Thabang Moroe, called it – “the 654.”

It’s one way to describe a predicted loss of R654 million. Just call it “the 654.” Makes it seem smaller.

But it isn’t. It’s a very, very large problem for Cricket South Africa. It’s a very, very large problem for the sport in general in this country.
R654 million. There are some people in local cricket who fear that number maybe even larger. Heaven forbid if that’s the case. But it really needn’t be exaggerated.

In trying to decrease that debt, Cricket SA is changing the domestic structure. There will be no Titans, Warriors, Dolphins, Knights, Cobras and Lions from May 2020. Western Province, Gauteng, Northerns, Easterns, South Western Districts, North West, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State. Northern Cape, Border, Eastern Province, Boland will be back competing domestically. If all goes to plan, Limpopo and Mpumalanga will join them in 2023.

Of course this will lead to more opportunities for players. Sort of. Cricket SA’s development initiatives, particularly in the last decade, have produced more players, and six franchise sides is insufficient to accommodate them.

In fact the franchises are a big problem for CSA as Moroe pointed out at the weekend, in that they cost a total of R90 million to run.

Having 12 provinces will be cheaper apparently. Players’ salaries, according to the chief financial officer, Ziyanda Nkuta, won’t be affected by this belt-tightening.

But the SA Cricketers Association (Saca) isn’t buying that. The body that represents the country’s cricketers issued a stinging response about CSA’s plans, saying it was not consulted as CSA is mandated to do, according to the Memorandum of Understanding the two organisations signed last year. Saca’s president Omphile Ramela drove the point home firmly this week.

“The players’ livelihoods depend on cricket’s financial sustainability but this is not only about the players. It is also about the future of the entire game in our country.”

There are very real concerns about the future of the game in South Africa and the direction CSA is taking it in. Moroe wants to make the Mzansi Super league the central element that will attract cash and “end up funding domestic cricket,” as he put it at the weekend.

That seems very far-fetched when considering that the first company he’s talking to about broadcasting the MSL next summer is the SABC which has no money to pay CSA for the rights to do so.

It is a critical time for cricket in this country. The national mens team is heading for a World Cup where the minimum requirement is apparently a spot in the final.

If that happens the Proteas will be a desirable asset, one which a broadcaster (SuperSport) will want to pay for. That will put much-needed cash in CSA’s coffers, alleviating some of the stress caused by “the 654.”