14 Nov

England’s white-ball tour of South Africa is in the balance because of a crisis within the host nation’s governing body. Zak Yacoob (pictured), the interim board chairman of Cricket South Africa (CSA), said yesterday that England may be advised not to fly out for the planned three T20s and three ODIs, depending on the outcome of a members’ meeting due to have taken place last night (13 November). 

England’s 22-man squad is due to depart for Cape Town on Monday, with the T20 series starting on November 27. 

Last month CSA’s board of directors resigned en masse after an independent audit into the running of the sport in South Africa. The country’s government recently tried to install an interim board to run the governing body. However, CSA’s members’ council, which is the senior decision-making body and is made up of representatives from South Africa’s provincial cricket organisations, rejected this proposal, meaning there is no leadership structure in place. “I don’t know what the thinking is in England,” Yacoob said, “but I have no doubt that if the members’ council doesn’t take a proper decision this evening, England will probably be seriously discouraged from coming.” 

Nathi Mthethwa, the South African sports minister, has threatened to place sanctions on CSA unless it approves the interim board, which could include stripping it of the right to call itself the game’s official governing body. In that event, the ICC may be forced to step in, as the global administrator’s constitution prohibits government interference in any of its members. 

If a formal complaint is made by a national governing body regarding such interference, the ICC can take action. Last year, Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing member to be suspended for not adhering to the no-interference rule, resulting in their funding being frozen for three months and their national team not being allowed to play in ICC events. 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has not had any formal communication from CSA and is continuing with plans to depart on Monday, unless it hears otherwise in the next couple of days. 

Cancellation of the tour would have a significant impact on CSA’s already precarious financial situation and would, inevitably, mean the television and radio broadcasters ask for a refund on their existing deals. 

John Stephenson 


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