South Africa’s cricketers’ association on Friday expressed “despair and disbelief” at the continuing chaos in the game, four days before England are due to arrive for a limited overs tour.
The chairman of Cricket South Africa’s interim board, Judge Zak Yacoob, warned earlier that the conflict could discourage England from travelling – although a spokesperson for the England and Wales Cricket Board said he expected the tour to go ahead.
“Our position is at it has been for the past few weeks – it’s business as usual,” said the spokesperson. “We travel on Monday.”
Yacoob said the refusal of CSA’s members’ council to endorse the interim board could have serious repercussions and urged the council to reconsider its decision when it meets on Friday evening.
“If the members’ council does not take a proper decision this evening, England will probably be seriously discouraged from coming,” said Yacoob.
South Africa’s sports minister, Nathi Mthethwa, earlier warned that he could intervene directly if the council did not reverse a decision announced on Thursday to break off relations with the interim board. His intervention could potentially affect CSA’s standing with the International Cricket Council.
England are due to arrive in Cape Town on Tuesday ahead of three Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals, starting on November 27.
The South African Cricketers’ Association said the obstinacy of the members’ council and the possible intervention of the sports minister “could result in the ICC reviewing the status of CSA as an ICC member country. This would have a devastating impact upon cricket in South Africa.”
The interim board was put in place after a long period of upheaval in South African cricket which led to the resignation last month of the previous board, although the members’ council, consisting of provincial presidents, remained as the ultimate decision-making body.
In terms of South Africa’s companies act, the interim board needs to be appointed formally by the members’ council in order to fully carry out its mandate.
“We are back to square one, and the glimmer of hope has now been replaced by further disappointment and confusion,” said Cricketers’ Association chief executive Andrew Breetzke.
“The governance structures of CSA are again in crisis. Self-interest and politics are continuing to triumph over the best interests of cricket.”
Mthethwa’s threat to intervene was conveyed in a letter to members’ council chairman Rihan Richards. A copy of the letter was sent to the ICC, which takes a dim view of government interference in cricket.
Yacoob said the interim board intended to continue working to solve the problems in South African cricket and accused the council of breaking an agreement reached jointly with the interim board and the sports minister.