Former CSA CEO Thabang Moroe revisits Ottis Gibson coaching appointment at Cricket SA hearings 

Cricket Thabang Moroe, South Africa’s former chief executive officer, claimed on Wednesday that the CSA board he worked with let down local black coaches like Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams when Ottis Gibson was appointed men’s national team coach in 2017.

Gibson, a former West Indian all-rounder who played first-class cricket in South Africa, took over for Russell Domingo in 2017 and oversaw South Africa’s worst-ever Cricket World Cup performance two years ago in England.

Moroe, who testified under oath at the CSA Cricket for Social Justice hearings on Tuesday, claimed that the appointment of Gibson ended the careers of Toyana and Adams.

Moroe, who was vice-president at CSA before becoming CEO in 2018, said Toyana’s non-appointment was a surprise, despite the fact that she was the best local candidate at the time.

Toyana was a successful Lions coach from 2012 to 2018 before moving north to the Northerns, and Adams is now the coach of Border.

“At board level, we were talking about how Geoff was head above shoulders over everyone because of his performances,” Moroe said.

“When the chairperson of the ad-hoc committee said they preferred Ottis Gibson as the national team coach, it came as a surprise.

“We were talking about the short period the coach was going to have before the 2019 World Cup and how we wanted a coach who was familiar with the players in our system, the environment and that he needed to hit the ground running.

“Choosing someone who didn’t even live in SA came as a surprise, considering the things we had listed.

“After Ottis was announced, I asked what Toyana’s short-comings were, because we were all sure that he was going to be the national team coach because it was everywhere in the media.

“We were told that they weren’t happy with his presentation and articulation skills, which we found to be concerning because we weren’t hiring him to do presentations.”

Moroe, whose turbulent tenure as CEO resulted in his suspension in December 2019 and dismissal in August 2020 based on the Fundudzi forensic report into CSA’s affairs, said Gibson’s appointment was supported by former president Chris Nenzani and the ad hoc chairman Norman Arendse, who was tasked with finding a coach.

Moroe also stated that he did not support Dale Benkenstein’s appointment as batting coach, but Gibson settled with him and Malibongwe Maketa as his assistant after Gibson’s prefered assistant coach option, which Moroe did not name, was not desired.

“In supporting Ottis’s appointment as coach, we then said one of Geoff or Paul should be his assistants, with the board pushing for Geoff as the assistant with Paul coming in as the spin bowling coach,” Moroe said.

“Then I was given the process of getting the coach on board, which was uncomfortable, but I did it and when we then met Ottis, I explained my role and what was going to happen with the coaching staff.

“He then told us he was being hired to win the World Cup and to do so, he needed leeway to pick his own staff that he believed in, and we agreed.

“I wasn’t happy with Dale Benkenstein because of a lack of qualifications. I raised it with Ottis and took it to the board and I was supported by the board.”

Moroe said he always felt that there was a third force that looked to sabotage him because of his positive transformation stance.

“In early 2019, I got a call from one of the national team players, who asked if I’ll be in Port Elizabeth and they wanted me to meet me in private,” Moroe said

“If you were a player/administrator and you were seen with me, you were pitted to be in Thabang’s corner. Players were afraid to be seen in public or meet me in the office. When they were seen with me, they’d get a call from the seniors asking what they were doing with me.

“It was like that because I was vocal about transformation and I acted on decisions that were taken, so it was a fear of change.”

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