Gerald Majola- CEO, Cricket South Africa Share PDF Print E-mail
Profile of the week
Gerald Majola has been CEO of CSA (Cricket South Africa) since 2001. Majola’s involvement with the governing body dates back to 1998, doctor when he was elected to the General Council of the then UCBSA (United Cricket Board of South Africa) before becoming a member of the National Selection Panel the following year. Outside of cricket, symptoms Majola has developed a career in business in the fields of chemical analysis, commercial property and civil engineering.
You have been at the helm of Cricket South Africa for over a decade, and you are the longest serving CEO of any of the ICC full member countries, what has been the highlight of your tenure?
There have been plenty of highlights of my tenure. It’s very hard to pick one. I always get excited when the team does well--that’s why I’m here, to administer and make sure that the sport progresses and moves on. Also, when the competitions are running smoothly I get satisfaction from my job. So I can’t [really] give you highlights, [but], I think CSA has hosted, more than any other country, all the major events during my tenure.
I can probably boast and say I am the only CEO in world cricket who has hosted almost all the major events in world cricket be it a World Cup t20 [the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007], be it a world cup champions league [Champions League Twenty20 2010], be it a proper world cup [2003 World Cup]. And, most of them have been successful. I think we probably can boast as the best host in cricket. We hosted IPL, of course, in record time [in 2009]. It was laid on our table three weeks before the start of the event and I still believe it was the best hosted IPL of the three that’ve been played so far.
I’ve [also] been involved with putting together CSA’s vision and strategies for the last decade. For me, the key is to see the abundance of talent coming through. I believe I can say, without fear of any contradictions, that we probably [have] produced the highest quality of cricket players than any other country at the moment and that’s [indebted to] the programmes we’ve put down at CSA. This year we’ve probably introduced 4 to 5 players, all of them already knocking the top rankings of ICC. That’s really my highlight – [my highlight] is to see fruits of that architecture coming through.
After the move from 11 provinces to 6 franchises in 2003, which was a great success, you are now considering franchise expansion to further improve standards. Please can you explain to our readers the thought behind this?
If there’s one good decision I can put down as stand out, [it] was to revamp our competitions from eleven to six because the quality of cricketers coming out of the present competition is proven. That was a very good decision, but, also, what we have seen is that the numbers do not really [suffice for the demand]. We can do with more than six. What we don’t know is how many more would be viable. So the exercise is not to go back; we have to seriously look at how many quality cricketers we can get and how many teams we can afford. [We need] to continue with what we have but not lose quality players out of the system. If we only stick with six, we cannot accommodate all players because of the abundance of players coming through the system. The objectives are two – one is each of those entities must be financially viable and, secondly, the quality of cricket must not be compromised.
How do you balance the advancement of the professional game and the promotion of the sport in education and at a grassroots level?
Our vision at CSA is to be a truly national sport of winners. That means cricket must be accessible to all, first and foremost, and, then, the second part of that vision is that cricket must be a winning sport – excellence must be key to what we do. So, much as we want to be accessible to all, we do not want to lose quality and, hence, all our programmes our built towards ensuring that whatever programmes we have produce quality players. That is why now we are sitting with an abundance of quality players that are coming through our pipeline from grassroots level.
We have also started something in the heart of the rural area out in Alice. We have a rural academy where we concentrate purely on black African players; we give them bursaries and, they will also be part of cricket. This is our third year in that exercise. Out of that exercise, now, we have produced eight graduates from the varsity and also we have produced four professional cricketers. So, it takes care of both the cricketing side of things and also the education; not all of the people going into academies will eventually be professional cricketers but, if they’re not, at least they have a career and they might be cricket administrators in future as well.
Obviously, the policy of transformation is such an important and powerful one to help ensure the diversity of the game and to make the South African cricket team an important symbol of the post apartheid nation.
No doubt. Transformation is key to whatever we do. For us to be sustainable, we have to ensure, as I said, that our vision is accessible to all. It means that we have to ensure that the majority of people in the country have access to the game. And, therefore, transformation is key to our sustainability to make sure that cricket is followed by all and enjoyed by all.
You have been instrumental in the establishment of the t20 format – not only hosting the IPL in 2009, but also bringing the Champions League T20 competition into being with the BCCI and Cricket Australia. What are your plans to promote this form of the game even further?
My view is we have to balance all three forms of the game and that’s going to be part of our exercise [with franchise expansion]. There’s a place for test cricket, which is, really, in my view, the pure cricket and we have to ensure it’s got its place. And then you have your ODI or one day internationals and you also have your t20s. t20, for me, is more to introduce the game. It’s good for the commercialisation of the game – to bring revenues, to make sure game is sustainable – and also for the entertainment part – to bring in new people into the game of cricket. It’s very difficult to introduce people to cricket by introducing them to test cricket. It takes much longer. What we have seen that t20 has done to cricket is, number one, it’s bringing new spectators to cricket; it’s also changed the way test cricket is played. If you watch test cricket played lately, most of the tests that are played have results and it’s all because of how t20 has shaped and changed the approach of our players when they play. So, it has a lot of spin offs and positives, but we should not lose sight of the three forms of the game and we should protect all three of them.
Do you think that day/night test cricket might be the answer in the preservation of the test format?
If there’s one thing I do not believe will help, it’s that one. I believe day/night test cricket would not be good. That’s on a personal note; if CSA wants to support it, I will support it. For me, the conditions for day and night would totally never be the same; you want, at least, conditions to be more or less the same for both teams in my view and day night cricket will not be good for that at all. I think test cricket in its current form can attract the best crowds. We’ve had full houses in the last two years when we’ve played test cricket at our venues, depending on the opposition of course, but I don’t think day night is going to add any more spectators, is going to add any more glamour to the game. I just feel it should be left to its purest form with a red ball and white clothing. I might change certain conditions and things like that – I mean the playing regulations – but not day night.
Cricket is a global game as illustrated by your sponsorship deals with Taj Television in Asia and the Middle East & Willow TV International for United States, Canada and Mexico. Has there been a great shift in broadcasting and sponsorship partnerships over the past decade?
I personally I think that we have secured a very good deal. I believe that very few people will get that. Somewhere along the line this bubble will burst as well, in my view, and I believe that that deal was quite a lucrative deal and we are happy. That’s why we have gone for an eight year deal because we have secured our revenues for the next eight years. And, we are looking now to finalise a deal with Sky in the UK, because our major revenues really come from international broadcast rights. It was key to get to the market before others. I would challenge others to get to those numbers. I won’t say that they won’t but I believe our deal was lucrative one and it will cover us for the next eight years.
How far is cricket in the battle to defeat match-fixing?
I think this all revolves around good education. And, our view is, in all our programmes, starting in our coaching programmes, we ensure that it starts from schools level. [We promote] the awareness of what this monster is all about and we deal with it at that tender age. I don’t know internationally really whether it is something [that is done] but in South Africa that’s when we start educating. And, it’s going to be a challenge; like all other challenges, we’ve seen the best way is to educate, educate, educate. Nothing more than that. [We must] continue campaigning and educating people so people do not have excuses that they didn’t know about it. Anybody that comes into our programmes will get to know about what it’s all about and how it happens and so forth.
Your own position at CSA has recently been questioned. After such a long time in the post, how do you feel about this?
Well, there’s always going to be challenges in any job you do. Even if I leave cricket, I’ll go somewhere else [and] I’ll get challenges. And, that’s life. You have to be there and take the challenges as they are and look at the positives. And, don’t deviate your attention because of people challenging you. As long as you are steadfast, believe in what you to do [that’s the most important things] and, of course, you have to please your bosses. At the end of the day, you report to a board and the board must know what you do.
At the moment, I see this entire matter as a person put on trial by the media, and people who know really nothing about the matter, but I will face those challenges. And, I feel that I have achieved a lot in what I wanted to achieve and I will resign when I’m ready to resign and move on. But, I’ll always be in this game of cricket; it’s in my blood, it’s my passion. I will never leave cricket; irrespective if I’m not a CEO tomorrow, I will be something else in cricket. As you know, I was a board member, I was a selector; it’s in my blood. And I won’t do anything to harm this game of cricket. I would never harm cricket. If I was asked tomorrow to resign by my board, I would walk away. As long as they are still happy with what I do and I’m still enjoying my work with all its challenges, I will continue to do what’s best for South African cricket.
Your family has given such a lot to the game – both your brother and your father as well as yourself. Do you remember that at times like these?
That’s what keeps you going – your family tradition is important, my integrity is important. The only issue that really worried me here was my family and what they go through for something that’s totally misrepresented.

Majola Cropped 2
Gerald Majola has been CEO of CSA (Cricket South Africa) since 2001. Majola’s involvement with the governing body dates back to 1998, when he was elected to the General Council of the then UCBSA (United Cricket Board of South Africa) before becoming a member of the National Selection Panel the following year. Outside of cricket, Majola has developed a career in business in the fields of chemical analysis, commercial property and civil engineering. 

By Colin Robinson & Mary Meyer

 

You have been at the helm of Cricket South Africa for over a decade, and you are the longest serving CEO of any of the ICC full member countries, what has been the highlight of your tenure?

There have been plenty of highlights of my tenure. It’s very hard to pick one. I always get excited when the team does well--that’s why I’m here, to administer and make sure that the sport progresses and moves on. Also, when the competitions are running smoothly I get satisfaction from my job. So I can’t [really] give you highlights, [but], I think CSA has hosted, more than any other country, all the major events during my tenure. 

I can probably boast and say I am the only CEO in world cricket who has hosted almost all the major events in world cricket be it a World Cup t20 [the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007], be it a world cup champions league [Champions League Twenty20 2010], be it a proper world cup [2003 World Cup]. And, most of them have been successful. I think we probably can boast as the best host in cricket. We hosted IPL, of course, in record time [in 2009]. It was laid on our table three weeks before the start of the event and I still believe it was the best hosted IPL of the three that’ve been played so far. 

I’ve [also] been involved with putting together CSA’s vision and strategies for the last decade. For me, the key is to see the abundance of talent coming through. I believe I can say, without fear of any contradictions, that we probably [have] produced the highest quality of cricket players than any other country at the moment and that’s [indebted to] the programmes we’ve put down at CSA. This year we’ve probably introduced 4 to 5 players, all of them already knocking the top rankings of ICC. That’s really my highlight – [my highlight] is to see fruits of that architecture coming through.


After the move from 11 provinces to 6 franchises in 2003, which was a great success, you are now considering franchise expansion to further improve standards. Please can you explain to our readers the thought behind this? 

If there’s one good decision I can put down as stand out, [it] was to revamp our competitions from eleven to six because the quality of cricketers coming out of the present competition is proven. That was a very good decision, but, also, what we have seen is that the numbers do not really [suffice for the demand]. We can do with more than six. What we don’t know is how many more would be viable. So the exercise is not to go back; we have to seriously look at how many quality cricketers we can get and how many teams we can afford. [We need] to continue with what we have but not lose quality players out of the system. If we only stick with six, we cannot accommodate all players because of the abundance of players coming through the system. The objectives are two – one is each of those entities must be financially viable and, secondly, the quality of cricket must not be compromised. 

 

How do you balance the advancement of the professional game and the promotion of the sport in education and at a grassroots level?

Our vision at CSA is to be a truly national sport of winners. That means cricket must be accessible to all, first and foremost, and, then, the second part of that vision is that cricket must be a winning sport – excellence must be key to what we do. So, much as we want to be accessible to all, we do not want to lose quality and, hence, all our programmes our built towards ensuring that whatever programmes we have produce quality players. That is why now we are sitting with an abundance of quality players that are coming through our pipeline from grassroots level. 

We have also started something in the heart of the rural area out in Alice. We have a rural academy where we concentrate purely on black African players; we give them bursaries and, they will also be part of cricket. This is our third year in that exercise. Out of that exercise, now, we have produced eight graduates from the varsity and also we have produced four professional cricketers. So, it takes care of both the cricketing side of things and also the education; not all of the people going into academies will eventually be professional cricketers but, if they’re not, at least they have a career and they might be cricket administrators in future as well.


Obviously, the policy of transformation is such an important and powerful one to help ensure the diversity of the game and to make the South African cricket team an important symbol of the post apartheid nation.

No doubt. Transformation is key to whatever we do. For us to be sustainable, we have to ensure, as I said, that our vision is accessible to all. It means that we have to ensure that the majority of people in the country have access to the game. And, therefore, transformation is key to our sustainability to make sure that cricket is followed by all and enjoyed by all.

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