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South African cricketers threaten strike action ahead of England tour

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

The South African Cricketers’ Association will hold a meeting on Friday, December 6, to discuss the possibility of taking industrial or protest action against Cricket South Africa.

The trigger for the dispute is CSA’s allegedly “unlawful use of player commercial rights” in relation to a Mzansi Super League fantasy game and the failure of CSA to confirm with SACA that the use of players in a pay-to-play game did not constitute an anti-corruption violation.

“Unfortunately SACA has again had to commence a formal process against CSA in respect of yet another situation in which the commercial rights of players in the MSL have been ignored,” said Tony Irish, SACA chief executive. “CSA has used and allowed the use of, the names and images of players in association with a fantasy league game related to MSL without any rights to do so and despite SACA having relayed to CSA that such use is unlawful.  The situation has continued despite our concerns raised on repeated occasions, leaving us little option but to take formal steps.

“SACA has also, and simply as a precaution, requested CSA to obtain clearance from its anti-corruption unit to ensure that this use of players in a pay-to-play game does not in any way constitute an association of the players with gambling, or encouragement of betting practices, which are not permitted under CSA’s anti-corruption code.  As far as we know this request has been ignored by CSA.”

SACA chief executive Tony Irish (right), with Jonty Rhodes in 2009

Irish made clear that this was only the last in a series of incidents which have caused friction. “This is yet another instance, in a growing line of instances, where CSA has flagrantly disregarded our agreements and, over the last week or so, failed to address SACA’s resulting concerns,” said Irish, who will soon leave his role in South Africa to take up the equivalent role in the Professional Cricketers’ Association in England. “We now feel that enough is enough.

“SACA has called a meeting of its Players Executive Committee and its Management Board for Friday December 6, 2019.  At this meeting, we will again be discussing the manner in which SACA and the players are being treated by CSA.  This discussion is likely to include the possibility of the players taking some form of industrial, or protest, action.

“SACA has always considered strike, and other similar forms of industrial action, to be a very last resort and in SACA’s 17 years of dealing with CSA to date not one day of cricket has ever been lost to industrial action. However things have now reached a stage where we must ask what SACA, and the players, are expected to do when the leadership of CSA, both operationally and on its Board, continues to ignore our legitimate concerns and refuses to acknowledge the players as key stakeholders in the game.”

England’s first fixture on their tour of South Africa, a warm-up against a South Africa Invitation XI, is due to start in just 13 days, and any decision to strike might throw the Test series, which is set to begin on Boxing Day, in doubt.

The CSA has also been embroiled in controversy with its country’s journalists this week, with CEO Thabang Moroe having apologised for revoking accreditations on Tuesday, December 3.

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