Does incoming Central Gauteng Lions chief executive have the required skills?

30 August 2019 - 13:34
By Telford Vice
Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe has been accused of interfering in the affairs of Central Gauteng Lions.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe has been accused of interfering in the affairs of Central Gauteng Lions.

Does the incoming Central Gauteng Lions (CGL) chief executive have the required skills?

It’s a simple question.

But no-one involved seems prepared to answer it.

The requirements for the position‚ as advertised by the CGL‚ stipulated a “post-graduate degree in business management‚ business administration‚ sports management or a related field with a minimum of five years’ experience or a bachelor’s degree with 10 years of senior management experience”.

Jono Leaf-Wright was the successful candidate and will take over from Greg Fredericks on October 1.

“Please refer all matters/queries to the GCB [Gauteng Cricket Board‚ the CGL’s former name]‚” Leaf-Wright said in a text message after he was asked whether he ticked the boxes.

TimesLIVE had contacted the CGL marketing and communications office the day before and did so again this Thursday.

As yet no response has been received.

Thabang Moroe‚ Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) chief executive‚ was part of the panel that interviewed those vying for the job.

He was consulted through a CSA spokesperson‚ who came back on Thursday with: “[Moroe has] asked that you take this question to the CGL president and his team as this is a Gauteng matter and not a CSA one.”

CGL president Jack Madiseng was then approached. He has yet to respond.

Leaf-Wright’s appointment has been met with approval in various quarters — no mean feat considering the fractious nature of cricket in South Africa and in Gauteng in particular.

The 37-year-old has built a solid reputation as a coach‚ which is highlighted on his company’s website: “Jono Leaf-Wright is a teacher‚ and he holds a national level three coaching certificate.

“He is currently a ‘scout’ in the Gauteng region for talent at school level for [CSA] and is on the Gauteng Cricket Coaches’ Association.

“Jono has gained international coaching experience as he has been a member of the coaching staff for the Royal Challengers Bangalore [Indian Premier League] team‚ who were bronze medallists in IPL 2010‚ and silver medalists in IPL 2009 and IPL 2011.”

The site also carries a ringing endorsement from Ali Bacher: “I have seen my grandson being coached by Jono over the last two years‚ and I can honestly say that I find him to be the most enthusiastic and competent coach.”

So far‚ so impressive.

But Leaf-Wright’s track record as an administrator — particularly at a high level — is more difficult to gauge because there is little available evidence of it.

That will ring alarm bells considering he is replacing one of the most seasoned suits in the game in one of the most senior roles.

Fredericks‚ 65 and from the Eastern Cape‚ is also a teacher‚ and holds a Masters degree in education from Manchester University.

He has strong and honourable struggle credentials and was a member of South Africa’s first democratically elected Parliament and a chief director in the sport ministry.

Fredericks worked on the 2010 men’s football World Cup and has been in his Gauteng’s chief executive since October 2013.

“The board did not take up the task of appointing a CEO lightly and was well aware of the attributes on operational‚ commercial and amateur cricket level that the ideal candidate would have to have‚” Moroe‚ then president of the GCB‚ was quoted as saying in a release at the time.

“Fredericks brings a wealth of experience and I am confident that his contribution will take the GCB to the next level.”

His leaving inspired this tribute on social media from former teammate Geoff Gamiet: “I feel so privileged to have you as a friend‚ Greg. You are such a humble person blessed with extraordinary talents and wisdom.

“You have transformed every single organisation or institution that you came into contact with.

“From our early rugby and cricket days in Parkside‚ East London‚ you showed a high level of competitiveness. You were always prepared to serve and not to be served.”

Leaf-Wright acknowledged in a CGL release on August 18 announcing his appointment that he has “big shoes to fill”.

Indeed. So he‚ or CSA or the CGL‚ should reassure cricketminded South Africans that his feet are the right size.