Haroon Lorgat, Omphile Ramela and Andre Odendaal are part of a nine-person interim Cricket South Africa (CSA) board, which will be chaired by Judge Zak Yacoob. The names of the members and the functions of the interim board were announced on Friday by South Africa's sports minister Nathi Mthethwa, who heralded it as a "new dawn" for cricket in the country.
The interim board will include, apart from the ones named earlier, Stavros Nicolaou, Judith February, Andile Dawn Mbatha, Xolani Vonya, and Nkeko Caroline Mampuru. The members were nominated by the sports ministry, CSA's members' council - the highest-decision making body in the game, made up of the 14 provincial affiliate presidents - and the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA). They are expected to be in place for an initial period of three months, which could be extended, and have the overarching task of "stabilising cricket in this country", according to Mthethwa.
To that end, the selected members have been identified as "men and women with a range of skills in the areas of law, governance, business and international relations," Mthethwa said.
Among them, Lorgat is the best known in the cricket world, having held senior positions in the ICC and the CSA in the past. He left CSA in 2017, following a fallout over the defunct Global T20 League, and was replaced by Thabang Moroe, under whom the loss-making Mzansi Super League was launched. Lorgat is also working with the T10 league in Abu Dhabi.
"The board is going to have no holy cows. It's not going to be bound by decisions which may not be in the best interest of cricket. We are emphasising that it is an interim board. We think that within three months, they would have delivered, especially because this is a group of people who would know what to do" Nathi Mthethwa, South Africa's sports minister
Others directly connected with cricket are Ramela, the former left-hand batsman who is the president of the SACA, Odendaal, a former CEO of Western Province Cricket, and Vonya, former president of Easterns Cricket. Ramela will have to step down from his role as SACA president to avoid a conflict of interest.
The rest of the board consists of experts from outside the game. Yacoob is a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. February is a lawyer, governance specialist and columnist, Mbatha is a chief financial officer of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mampuru is the deputy head of the special investigation unit, a forensic investigation and litigation agency, and Nicolaou is a senior executive in the pharmaceutical industry. By that count, five of the nine members could be considered independent.
That distance from the game is necessary as CSA looks to work its way out of an administrative crisis that has hung over it for the last year. The trouble began when Moroe, who was hired as CEO despite not meeting minimum requirements, lost the confidence of key stakeholders in the game including SACA (which has been in legal battles with CSA over a proposed domestic restructure and non-payment of images rights) and sponsors (Test backer Standard Bank and ODI partner Momentum have both walked away). The now-resigned board suspended Moroe in December last year and fired him in August, but in that time, CSA has descended into more strife particularly around transformation. All those factors convinced Mthethwa to step in.
"I made several attempts in meeting with their board and members council, to encourage Cricket SA to pre-empt any action on my part by demonstrating that they have capacity, will and desire to self-correct," Mtethwa said. "But it dawned on me that no matter how long we nudge cricket, no matter how long we delay the inevitable, we will be faced with it because quite clearly, there was no way that Cricket South Africa was in a position to self-correct. When I decided to intervene, I decided as a matter of courtesy to inform the ICC. I also thought I would give Cricket South Africa another opportunity to make representations to me as to why I should not intervene. In the interim, I heard that the board has resigned as Cricket South Africa, particularly the Members' Council, managed to present me with constructive proposals to which I applied my mind and agreed to engage with them on a collaborative path that would see the replacement of the board."
Mthethwa confirmed that ICC CEO Manu Sawhney had responded to him, supporting "a collaboration between government and cricket in South Africa" and putting CSA out of danger of breaching the ICC's code of conduct, which forbids government interference in its members. "I decided to inform ICC because I thought it is important that there is proper alignment in what we do and that we are understood. We have no business as government to run cricket," Mthethwa said.
He said he expected the interim board to work without "fear, favour or prejudice", and hoped they would produce a way forward within their three-month tenure. "The board is going to have no holy cows. It's not going to be bound by decisions which may not be in the best interest of cricket," Mthethwa said. "We are emphasising that it is an interim board. We think that within three months, they would have delivered, especially because this is a group of people who would know what to do."
CSA's annual general meeting falls within that period after it was rescheduled from September 5 to December 5, but Mthethwa indicated it would be delayed further to allow the interim board to conclude its work. "In all practicalities, there is no way that that date will remain as the AGM," he said. "We will have to deal with these problems, the root causes of these problems, which could have been avoided had people listened and did what they were supposed to do."