The dark clouds are all over Cricket South Africa (CSA) at present, but the suspension of chief executive Thabang Moroe also has a silver lining as this could mean the speeding up of former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith's appointment as Director of Cricket.
South Africa's title sponsors Standard Bank on Friday announced the end of their partnership once the current deal ends next year on April 30. As per a report in Cricbuzz, the letter from CSA said Moroe had been "put ... on precautionary suspension with pay, effective 06 December 2019, on allegations of misconduct, pending further investigations".
CSA president Chris Nenzani is expected to meet with former International Cricket Council chief executive Dave Richardson to discuss the ongoing struggle within the board as well as appoint an acting chief executive in Moroe's absence. His suspension followed Standard Bank announcing the end to a partnership that started back in 1998.
"Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance," a release from the bank quoted Thulani Sibeko, their group chief marketing and communications officer, as saying. "In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank's reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA."
"In recognition of the widespread interest in and support for cricket, we value the right of South Africans and the broader cricket community to know about developments within CSA, especially those that relate to governance and conduct."
The South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) though has confirmed that a strike is the last option and the players will be in action against England. "Extremely poor leadership, both at operational level and at board level, is what has got cricket into this disastrous position," Tony Irish, SACA's chief executive, was quoted as saying.
"It is abundantly clear that there is no confidence, from any quarter amongst cricket stakeholders, in the CSA board. No-one on the board can say that he, or she, was unaware of what has been unfolding over at least the last year. It has all been happening, in many respects even publicly, under the board's very nose, and in some instances with board support.
"We have consistently flagged CSA's financial position as being an area of real concern. Everyone in cricket, including the players, is dependent on the ongoing health and financial sustainability of CSA. Accurate forecasts over a financial cycle are critical as one has to understand how big the financial problem actually is in order to find a solution to it. We have also just seen the resignation from the board of CSA of the chairman of its finance committee and its audit and risk committee [Mohamed Iqbal Khan] citing amongst other things financial irregularities relating to credit card use. [On Wednesday] more CSA employees were suspended, including the former acting chief financial officer [Ziyanda Nkuta]."
He went on to add: "SACA re-iterates however that industrial action by the players should be viewed only as a very last resort. We also wish to reassure cricket fans, and other cricket stakeholders, that SACA will not embark on industrial action with the players during the upcoming England [Test] series [which starts in Centurion on December 26]. We are very aware of the importance of this series to the Proteas and to England, to the many fans from both countries and to the media and commercial partners."