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Cricket news - South Africa's players apologise to sponsors for suits' performance

Dark days ahead - The South Africa players accused the board of having "undermined" and "betrayed" the game's financial backers.

Dark days ahead - The South Africa players accused the board of having "undermined" and "betrayed" the game's financial backers.

Cricket's reputation in South Africa plumbed new depths of fear and loathing on Monday when the players apologised to the sponsors for the performance of the administrators, whom they accused of having "undermined" and "betrayed" the game's financial backers. That came a day after government promised to take action in the face of CSA breaking its word by refusing to ratify a revised constitution that would allow for a majority independent board.

Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa's sports minister, is poised to withdraw CSA's funding and its privilege of calling its teams national representatives, which he is empowered to do by law. In a release on Sunday government said it had been "left ... with no further option" in the wake of CSA's highest authority, at a meeting on Saturday, reneging on its April 10 agreement to adopt a new memorandum of incorporation that guarantees more independent directors than those burdened - and possibly compromised - by vested interests.

In a release on Monday the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) said: "As players we wish to speak directly to the many sponsors of our beloved game ... [and] ... recognise and acknowledge that your involvement in the game supports our careers and provides funding for the development of the game throughout South Africa. We apologise for the actions of our administrators who have undermined and betrayed your commitment to the sport." SACA damned the decision taken on Saturday as having been made in "bad faith" and said it was "disrespectful not only to [Mthethwa's] office, but to all cricketers and the public". The statement was signed by SACA president Khaya Zondo and all of the national captains: Dane van Niekerk, Temba Bavuma and Dean Elgar.

Should Mthethwa exercise his authority CSA could complain about interference to the ICC, which could suspend the country's teams from international competition. Either way South Africa seem set to be banished from cricket's most important arena.

"Government intervention in the sport will have dire consequences, the full extent of which we do not yet know," SACA's release said. "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."

CSA has been procrastinating about improving its upper structures since 2012. Currently, most of the seats on its board are reserved for administrators who also sit on its highest authority, the members council, which is made up of the presidents of its 14 provincial affiliates and associates. That means the suits are free to police themselves, which has led to serious lapses of governance. In 2012 an investigation into bonuses paid to CSA in recognition of its successful staging of the 2009 Indian Premier League lost their way through the books. The discovery of that catastrophe prompted the Nicholson investigation, which recommended a majority independent board. CSA agreed to follow that advice but has since found ways to weasel out of their commitment.

"The members council has now acted contrary to the wishes of the minister, the Nicholson recommendations, King IV governance principles, and international best practice - how can this be in the best interests of our game?" SACA's release railed. It implored the public to "continue to support cricket. It is the most wonderful game, and we are immensely proud to represent you on the field."

SACA's stance is perhaps the strongest taken since September 2017, when CSA appointed Thabang Moroe as chief executive in an acting capacity - the crack of the starting pistol for South African cricket's race to the bottom.