Graeme Smith has withdrawn his interest from Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket role, citing a lack of “confidence” in the administration. Smith announced his decision via social media on Thursday.
“I would love to have taken on the role. However, despite my obvious desire to make a difference, during the long and, at times, frustrating process over the last ten or so weeks of discussions, I have not developed the necessary confidence that I would be given the level of freedom and support to initiate the required changes,” he wrote in his statement.
Please see my statement below on the Director of Cricket role for Cricket South Africa pic.twitter.com/uuv4kjIF3j
— Graeme Smith (@GraemeSmith49) November 14, 2019
Last Saturday, ESPNcricinfo broke the news that Smith was interviewed for the position alongside at least two other candidates: suspended interim director of cricket Corrie van Zyl and former national selector Hussein Manack. Local media has since reported that a fourth person, Dave Nosworthy, who has coached in South Africa and the United Kingdom is also in contention. A decision is expected to be made imminently, with the appointment due to be confirmed before England tour South Africa next month.
While Smith did not go into detail about the reasons for U-turning on what will be the most important position in South African cricket, he used words that have become part of the cricketing rhetoric in the country.
CSA is fighting fires on several counts including against the players’ association (SACA), that has taken the board to court over a proposed domestic restructure, and against the second-biggest association in the country, Western Province, whose board has been suspended. Like Smith, SACA has reported frustrations in their dealings with CSA, dating back 18 months when a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CSA and SACA, which governs the players’ employment conditions, was being negotiated. Delays saw the previous MoU expire and a new one only come into place three months later.
CSA’s most significant battle is financial and they have projected losses of R654 million in the next four-year cycle. A large portion of those losses are caused by the ongoing Mzansi Super League (MSL), which is in its second season. After failing to sell broadcast rights for the first edition, CSA had to foot the entire bill for the tournament, which is believed to be in the region of R80 million. This season, the public broadcaster, the SABC, is understood to have paid a small fee as a token gesture and CSA will once again spend millions of Rands.
Smith has no involvement with the competition, despite carving out a career as a commentator, because it is not being broadcast on the pay television channel SuperSport. Smith did not elaborate on his future plans but he is expected to be behind the microphone when England visit, and said he remains available to “give my advice and guidance wherever I can.”