South Africa news from ESPN Cricinfo.com
CSA is considering legal action after the circulation of a document that listed Mark Boucher, head coach of the South Africa men’s team, as holding a stake in the ownership structure of 3TC, a new format of cricket featuring three different teams in the same game.
The document has Boucher down as one of eight shareholders in the company that owns the format, which was planning to launch with a high-profile exhibition game. But the document has been denounced as false, and Boucher, CSA and 3TC have confirmed that Boucher is not involved with the company, which could, potentially and eventually, have constituted a conflict of interest.
Paul Harris, the former head of Rand Merchant Bank, well-known commentator Mark Nicholas, former ICC legal head David Becker, former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, marketing experts Ravi Naidoo and Gareth Whittacker, and radio presenter Brandon Leigh all hold shares in 3TC. Boucher is listed as the eighth name in this document, but he told ESPNcricinfo he is “absolutely not” a shareholder in the company. He was, along with CSA’s director of cricket Graeme Smith, involved in the developmental phase of the three-team format.
“Mark Boucher declared to us that he was involved in conceptualising 3TC, which we have no problem with,” Jacques Faul, CSA’s acting chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. “We are concerned that incorrect information is circulating and will be considering our legal options.”
3TC launched last Wednesday and aimed to hold an exhibition event called the Solidarity Cup, featuring 24 of South Africa’s top players, on June 27 but the plan had to be postponed because CSA has not yet obtained government permission for it. The match was billed as a charity event, which would raise money for CSA’s hardship fund, designed to assist those who have fallen on hard times as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which means the shareholders will not make money from the inaugural match. However, if 3TC grows, profits could be earned, thereby benefiting shareholders. All shareholders have to declare their involvement to their existing employers in order to identify potential conflicts of interest.
When the company was made public last week, there were immediate questions about the reasons for CSA’s rush to return to action mid-winter, a period when, typically, their players would not have any fixtures at home, and especially during the pandemic. A prominent former administrator said it was “insane” to aim to play cricket as the country heads towards its infection peak, which is expected between July and September, because it puts both players and others involved on match day at risk.
South Africa’s players have not trained formally since mid-March, when a state of disaster was declared by president Cyril Ramaphosa. On March 27, the country went into a strict lockdown during which all outdoor activity was prohibited. The lockdown was eased on May 1, when exercise was allowed outdoors between 6am and 9am, and on June 1, eased further to allow activity between 6am and 6pm and for non-contact sports’ training to resume.
However, all federations that wished to return to train and play had to submit detailed plans to the country’s sports’ ministry to indicate, among other things, their plans for testing players and disinfecting stadia. CSA has submitted its plans for both training and play but they have yet to be approved, despite Smith’s assurance last week that “everything had been okayed”. Since then, CSA has also reported seven positive Covid-19 cases across the organisation.
Additionally, CSA also required a second approval for the 3TC from the country’s department of health because they hoped to play the match at SuperSport Park in Centurion, which is located in one of the Covid-19 hotspots. Centurion is in the Gauteng province, which currently has the second-highest number of cases in the country. CSA has since indicated that it might look at another location.