Lorgat quitting endangers T20 League

2017-09-28 19:04
Haroon Lorgat (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - The timing of Haroon Lorgat's decision to step down suddenly as Cricket South Africa's CEO presents intriguing challenges to the organisation, coming little more than a month before their vital, slightly belated foray into a properly international-flavoured Twenty20 league.

The much-hyped, eight-team T20 Global League, for which little expense has been spared thus far, is scheduled to begin on November 3 at Newlands, the first of 57 matches over the frenetic course of 44 days until mid-December.

It is probably not too wide of the mark to consider the engineering of the tournament strongly "Lorgat's baby": that very fact may also have been the primary cause of the "mutual parting of ways", as CSA put it in confirming the move on Thursday.

A "breakdown in relationship" between Lorgat and the Board was a key theme of CSA's media release on the issue, coinciding with the start of the Proteas' busy summer as they negotiated the first session of the first Test against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom.

It is hardly a secret that the Global League has been pretty central to that conflict.

A former CEO of the International Cricket Council, Lorgat is experienced and resourceful ... and also quite single-minded and strong-willed in his methods and practices at times.

The chartered accountant, 57, was scheduled to remain at his CSA post – which he assumed in 2013 - for around another two years.

Key individuals in the CSA passages and some of the domestic franchises reportedly felt marginalised or bypassed along the Global League formulation way, and Lorgat was also at damaging loggerheads with the organisation’s CFO, Naasei Appiah.

Fewer local owners than expected were lured into ownerships of the all-new, independent franchises assembled for the Global League - Brimstone investment company pulled out after initially being named as owners of the Stellenbosch side, which has also had a subsequent name tweak - and the all-important broadcast rights deal was also a vexing, uncompleted matter as Lorgat left CSA.

In the last interview he conducted with this writer, in late August, Lorgat insisted that teething issues over the Global League were being dealt with and that greater harmony was prevalent in dealings with local franchise bosses and others involved.

"It's not surprising that this sort of huge change (the League) will bring associated issues, challenges, questions ... I'm happy to say everybody is trying to work through it.

"Engagement with owners has now been happening ... I believe our stadiums, our (own) franchises and affiliates are now much happier, having met the new faces."

South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) CEO Tony Irish told Sport24 from London, where he has been attending meetings of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA): "The T20 Global League is vitally important for South African cricket given the direction in which the global game is moving.

"Most of the players have already signed their contracts so I hope the League won't be affected (by Lorgat's exit) ... I will find out more about the implications of Haroon's departure when I get back tomorrow."

Seasoned former cricket administrator Arthur Turner, now head of a sports management company, said he was not aware of all the issues at play in Lorgat's departure, but warned the timing was "not good at all".

Turner, a prior CEO for Free State and Western Province, described Lorgat as "the driving force" behind the Global League.

"It is a highly ambitious programme, a massive undertaking ... my own feeling is that we are a year too early on it, anyway, so him going only increases the challenge now.

"His withdrawal also comes on the eve of two big home series, against India and Australia, plus we are bedding in a new national coach (Ottis Gibson) and a new team is emerging to a good extent.

"This comes at a very bad (juncture)."

Meanwhile tournament director Russell Adams said he preferred to "reserve comment at this time".

As the proverbial bathwater gurgles out on his departure, just how much of the T20 Global League scaffolding might effectively go, too, with Lorgat?

Regardless of how much does, CSA - under acting chief executive Thabang Moroe - have an awful lot of tricky work to do in an increasingly short time frame to make the League the success they desperately wish it to be.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    csa  |  t20 global ­league  |  haroon lorgat  |  cricket

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