UCBSA chief slammed on marijuana issue

Published: Friday, May 18, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: South African cricket bosses, already bedeviled by last month's doping incident, face more challenges both from within and from sports fans over allegations of weak leadership, secret deals and the team's clandestine entry into the country after victory in the West Indies.

United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) insiders say Percy Sonn will have to answer the executive committee at meetings Friday and Saturday about his alleged suppression of information from officials about the marijuana-smoking incident by six South African team members in Antigua last month.

Apart from that, the UCBSA is also facing threats of disruption of the Indian tour in October this year by mainly South African Indian fans from Durban. They claim Ali Bacher, the executive director of the 2003 World Cup to be hosted by South Africa, reneged on a promise to bring a World Cup game to Chatsworth.

To add to the Board's woes, the victorious national team returning from a historic tour of the West Indies where it defeated the opposition in a Test and One-day International series will not come in to a heroe's welcome, but arrive in separate flights to different areas and head home.

UCBSA sources told the daily 'Business Day' that Sonn had "shown weak leadership" by not accompanying Bacher to a meeting in the mainly South African Indian area of Chatsworth on Wednesday, which ended in fiery debates alleging discriminatory practices.

Sonn also came under fire earlier this week when senior UCBSA members, who were with him in Antigua when six players and the team physiotherapist confessed to smoking marijuana in April, said they were not informed about it.

Bacher's Durban meeting with community organisations resulted in allegations that he made "secret deals" with sponsors, resulting in the South African Indian area of Chatsworth not getting a World Cup game promised to them when he visited the area two years ago.

The groups also claimed Bacher had allowed decisions to be made by powers outside South Africa, such as media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Bacher denied the allegations and said he had asked Sonn and two others to accompany him. "But all three of them had legitimate reasons for not being able to do so," he said. "I said so at the meeting and offered to get Sonn, (UCBSA managing director Gerald) Majola, and (policy committee head Jakes) Gerwel there for another meeting."

Bacher said he had been consistent in his approach to the World Cup and areas like Chatsworth and other underprivileged areas could not get World Cup games because it would be too expensive to revamp them and funds were not available for this purpose.

A powerful body of 12 community leaders in Durban has been formed to ensure that Chatsworth does get a World Cup game. Kishore Morar, of the Action League for Transformation, said his group would also mobilise the local community against the UCBSA when the Indian team arrives here in October.

These issues are expected to top the UCBSA executive committee meeting agenda, along with a proposal by Majola for stricter Laws about time wasting to be put to the ICC (International Cricket Council). This follows a controversy during the West Indian tour when leg spinner Dinanath Ramnaraine was accused of delaying tactics.

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