South Africa’s men’s and women’s cricket captains on Monday criticised the decision by the sport’s council to reject a new governance structure.

Men’s Test skipper Dean Elgar, limited-overs captain Temba Bavuma and women’s captain Dane van Niekerk said the threatened government intervention in the troubled sport would have “dire consequences, the full extent of which we do not yet know.

“The right to represent South Africa may be withdrawn and the International Cricket Council may suspend Cricket South Africa.

“These outcomes will in turn impact touring, broadcast rights and sponsorship deals.

“Ultimately the financial viability of the game will suffer and cricket at all levels will be severely prejudiced,” the trio added in a statement issued by the South African Cricketers’ Association.

They were responding to an announcement by sports minister Nathi Mthethwa that he had no choice but to intervene directly in the administration of the sport.

Mthethwa’s move came after Cricket South Africa’s members’ council, consisting of the 14 presidents of provincial cricket unions, failed on Saturday to ratify an agreement that would see them effectively ceding control to a board consisting of a majority of independent directors.

The players said the actions of the presidents were in bad faith.

They said they wished to speak directly to sponsors.

“We apologise for the actions of our administrators who have undermined and betrayed your commitment to the sport.”

They also appealed to the cricket public, “the most important stakeholder in the game,” to continue to support the game and for all involved to resolve the current impasse in administration.

The weekend’s special general meeting was expected to endorse a new structure, paving the way for an annual general meeting, originally scheduled for October last year. But only six of the presidents voted in favour, falling well short of the 75 percent majority required.