PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - The South African Cricketers' Association raised the possibility on Thursday of taking the world's top-ranked test team out on a "lawful strike" in protest over the makeup of the country's governing board.
On the eve of South Africa's second test against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth, SACA also said that players were opposed to Cricket South Africa's plans to expand to a 16-member board in 18 months' time.
SACA appeared to have the support of leading South Africa internationals in its stance against a 16-member board and said that its position on that came after a discussion "amongst the Proteas squad in Port Elizabeth."
SACA chief executive Tony Irish said later Thursday there would likely be no imminent strike action, telling The Associated Press that a reduced 12-member board set to come into effect in February after CSA's annual general meeting was "acceptable."
But without the promised reorganizing from 22 to 12 directors by CSA next month, SACA "would be in a position to take the players out on a lawful strike over this issue," the players' body said in a statement.
"It's not perfect," Irish said of the 12-man board, "but we've also got to be responsible."
However, CSA's indication that it would then move to 16 directors in 2014 — after being roundly criticized for its ineffective governance through the current 22-member board — would be a problem for players, SACA said. SACA had "serious concerns" over the increase to 16 directors, it said.
"SACA and the players are not happy ... with the indication given that CSA will increase the board to 16 directors in the future. We don't think there are good reasons for this," Irish said in SACA's statement. "Should this actually happen it is likely to again become an issue for SACA and the players."
The South African national cricket body announced Wednesday that its board will be increased to 16 next year.
That would be "closer to the existing structure, which we all know has been a problem," SACA said in response.
CSA's immediate commitment to move to a 12-member board had led SACA to withdraw an initial protest against its own national body, which has been in turmoil since former chief executive Gerald Majola was implicated in a bonus scandal and eventually fired last year for his role in paying himself and other staff unauthorized amounts in 2009 and then trying to hide them.
The CSA board was also heavily criticized in an independent judicial report for, among other things, failing to deal effectively with Majola and for losing sight of its mandate to develop grass-roots cricket in South Africa and, in particular, to bring more black cricketers through the ranks.
"We have a world class national team and the players expect world class governance in the game," Irish said.
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