Pulling in one direction is beyond GCB squabblers
I HATE to tell you I told you so, but that it all went belly-up at the Wanderers this week shouldn't have surprised anyone. Gauteng is so riven with cliques, communities and dark fraternities that they make the phrase "hidden agenda" sound like a form of good governance.
You'd think the cricket-playing groups of Johannesburg could come together, hammer it all out for once and for all and get on with playing the game they all purport to love. They can't; indeed, it's moot as to whether they've ever really been able to do so for any extended period.
The history of cricket in the province is littered with coups and putsches, nights of the long knives and hands in the till. It makes an episode of The Sopranos look like a benign melodrama put on by the Orange Grove Rotarians.
Perhaps it all has something to do with playing cricket in a mining province. Everyone wants to get rich quick and damn the consequences. Claims jumping is as regular as a six-ball over.
Earlier this week, 33 clubs signed a letter and sent it to the Gauteng Cricket Board (GCB), an administration they feel is illegitimate given it was foisted on them by Cricket South Africa (CSA).
This manoeuvre was imposed on the province when Gerald Majola was still CEO at CSA and was designed, through his proxy, Ray Mali, to effectively neuter the GCB. This was necessary because the GCB had been uppity in 2009, asking also sorts of inconvenient questions about contracts and compromises undertaken by CSA to placate the Indian board during the hosting of the IPL.
The group signing this week's letter - represented, in the main by Keith Lister, a former board member, and Daniel Phetla, the chairman of Alexandra CC - are bothered by this perceived illegitimacy.
They argue that their early impression of the interim constitution is that it entrenches racial voting patterns. There is also some disagreement about the "one club, one vote" provision in the interim constitution.
Many clubs feel there has to be a more adequate form of weighting. A fly-by-night club with one T20 side in a lower Sunday league can't expect to carry a vote of the same weight as an established club with a side in the Premier League and three or four Sunday sides beneath that.
As ever, very few people are asking what is best for the sport in the province, preferring to retreat into the comfort of racial laagers and their attendant, inevitably partial, views of the world.
One issue that has deformed club cricket in the province for years, for example, is the one of behaviour and discipline. When is some brave cricket administrator going to grasp this nettle?
Rather than bickering over the weighting of votes and which racial grouping receives what, cricket people should be arguing about what is germane to club cricket. Grounds are frequently covered in litter; home teams seldom provide their visitors with lunches anymore. Cheating is rife and behaviour frequently rotten. Sledging falls from the sky like rain.
Luckily, there does seem to be a sliver of light on the horizon. Cassim Docrat, the current GCB CEO, told me on Friday he was hoping to circulate a letter later that day calling for a meeting on Wednesday night at the Wanderers Long Room.
The meeting will attempt to clear the air, hammer out the contentious issues of voting rights and constitutions and get everyone to pull in the same direction.
While this is welcome news, the matter has been complicated in recent days by the involvement of CSA, who the warring parties - the current GCB board and the signatories to the letter - have turned to in hope of mediation. CSA's lawyers are apparently studying the rival claims, but it seems there is natural justice in the idea that the GCB board is illegitimate. The interim board will be replaced, though, at the annual general meeting in September.
It's going to be a hectic few months in the province between now and then, as the clubs and what they perceive to be an illegitimate clique manfully slug it out.