Sauls vows to fight EP Cricket on axing

GRAEME Sauls has been axed as president of Eastern Province Cricket after fellow executive directors voted to uphold allegations levelled against him.

But Sauls yesterday vowed to fight back, saying his evidence had been ignored by the board and that he was considering legal action.

His position will be temporarily filled by Risk and Audit director Malcolm Figg, who will control day-to-day matters until a new president is elected at the board’s annual general meeting on September 14.

Sauls was ousted from the hot-seat during a board hearing held at St George’s Park on Thursday night after being found guilty by his peers of the following five accusations:

The signing of former chief executive Dave Emslie’s termination letter without board approval;

The employment of a person (development coach) without a board resolution;

Leaving a board meeting before a report he had submitted could be discussed;

Instructing the office to procure cricket balls without following the correct procedures;

Calling EP Cricket staff members to his private business office.

Figg, who chaired Wednesday night’s meeting attended by all nine board members and acting chief executive Tono Mle, confirmed Sauls’s removal from the board in an interview with Weekend Post yesterday morning.

However, Sauls may yet consult with Cricket South Africa and also seek legal advice.

“It’s extremely disappointing to hear of the board’s decision via an e-mail sent out to clubs,” Sauls said yesterday. “It is my opinion that . . . the entire process was certainly not fair and very prejudiced.”

The next battle in the struggle for power in EP Cricket will be fought at the AGM next month. THERE are no winners when power-mongering and egos get in the way of sport development. The axing this week of Graeme Sauls as president of Eastern Province Cricket has left more questions than answers, which has done nothing to stem the speculation of racial division within the top tier of the organisation. Despite nine of the 11 board members putting their name to a press statement this week denying there is any racial division among them, the lack of any real transparency in the Sauls issue will do nothing to quell suspicions that power deals are playing out behind the scenes, and that the changes are more about factions than true commitment to the development of the sport in this region.

Sauls has only been in the hot seat for 10 months, having taken over the reins last October. For him to be booted out of his job at this juncture – so soon after his ally Dave Emslie announced his resignation in June – only encourages speculation that this is an orchestrated take-over by those whose motives are not completely altruistic.

What are the real reasons for Sauls’ axing? Those that have been put forward by the board appear so petty that many will assume they are trumped up. Among them are the charges that he bought cricket balls without following proper procedure and called cricket staff to a meeting at his business office.

If the allegations against Sauls have been made public, so too should his responses to them. That is only fair.

Sauls claims that the board has simply ignored his responses to the allegations levelled against him, and that he has not been given a fair hearing.

If there is a true and overwhelming belief among board members that Sauls is not capable of steering EP Cricket into the future, then these concerns should be very clearly communicated to him.

However, it is a well-documented fact that during his tenure Sauls has been instrumental in efforts to uplift cricket, particularly in the Northern Areas where there are a limited number of coaches.

He has made inroads at clubs including Gelvandale and Northville, which recently received new nets.

Nothing less that complete openness and transparency by the board can fix this sorry situation. For the sake of cricket, let’s put personal agendas aside and work together in the best interests of the game.

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