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South Africa cricket faces ‘ban’ crisis

South Africa’s cricket is in massive crisis after the country’s official cricket board, Cricket South Africa, was suspended and it’s operations were taken over by SASCOC (South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee), which is a government body. SASCOC said the decision for CSA to step aside was taken after, failing to share a damning report that led to the sacking of former chief executive Thabang Moroe some nine months after he was first suspended. It also follows heavy criticism from sponsors and national team players, the latter accusing the board of “self-interest” in failing to deal adequately with the contents of the report, and the postponement of an Annual General Meeting scheduled for Sept. 5 which was to elect a new president after Chris Nenzani resigned last month.

The battle lines have been drawn. SASCOC is the macro-body that oversees sport in South Africa and has the power to rein in its federations, of which CSA is one, if deemed to be acting improperly. In a statement, Cricket South Africa has said that it does not agree with the resolution taken by SASCOC and has not had the opportunity to engage with SASCOC on various issues raised in the communication. It has also sought legal advice.

The ICC (International Cricket Council) forbades any kind of government interference in the day-to-day functioning of the cricket boards in the country. For South Africa, this step could see a ban from international cricket until the issue is not sorted out. For many South African cricketers, this is an instance of history repeating itself after 50 years.
Sporting isolation

In 1969/70, South Africa were dominating cricket and the crescendo came when they whitewashed Australia 4-0 in the series. However, for the next 22 years, South Africa would be banned from not just international cricket, but all sports totally.

What were the reasons? The Apartheid policy of the South African government at that time. Certain acts like the Group Area Permits and the Racial Segregation Act was the cornerstone upon which South Africa’s racism was institutionalized. The Gleneagles agreement, signed in 1977, prohibited any kind of sporting contact with South Africa.

The Proteas, starved of international cricket, organised Rebel Tours of England, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Australia and were met with very limited success. The players of the countries who toured South Africa suffered immensely. West Indies and Sri Lanka players were handed life bans while England’s players were banned for just three years.

In 1991, after Nelson Mandela was released and Prime Minister FW de Klerk relaxed some policies, South Africa was greeted back int the international arena. Their first tour was to India in 1991, a country that they had no diplomatic relations ever. After their tour to India, they were part of the 1992 World Cup and the first official international team to tour South Africa after the end of Apartheid was India itself.

For 22 years, South Africa was robbed due to the government’s Apartheid policy. 50 years later, government interference due to alleged ‘malpractises and maladministration’ within Cricket South Africa might force the ICC to usher in a ban. At the same time, South Africa’s neighbours Zimbabwe were also banned for a short while in 2019 due to government interference in the board. For South Africa, it seems history might be repeating itself all over again.