Cape Town - The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) on Wednesday confirmed that it has referred the Cape Cobras players’ grievance to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
“The players have exhausted the internal cricket process for dealing with their grievance and now have no option but to refer this to the CCMA”, said SACA chief executive, Tony Irish.
“It is the only way that they can deal with it further and keep shining a light on the issue with the franchise. They are not able to seek a binding order from the CCMA but are able to have the grievance conciliated in that forum.”
The grievance relates to a breakdown in the relationship between the majority of the Cobras players and the head coach, Paul Adams. It involves a fundamental loss of confidence by the players in the coach’s ability to lead the coaching of the team arising from his inability to create an effective team culture, poor communication and man management skills, lack of tactical and technical knowledge and disorganisation in running proper practice and training sessions.
“Some people have been quick to point out that the team won trophies under the coach in the period after he took over,” said Irish.
“According to the players however the coach’s shortcomings back then were compensated for by the role played by senior players at the time and the situation has got progressively worse. It in fact deteriorated to such a point last season that in December 2015 the franchise itself surveyed the players on the issue and the outcome of several of these highlighted the seriousness of the breakdown. The problem wasn’t however addressed by the franchise and in May 2016, when the players heard that the franchise was planning to renew the coach’s contract, 10 out of 17 contracted players - most of whom are senior players - raised a formal grievance and thereafter sought the players’ association’s assistance in dealing with it. We also know that players outside of the 10 sympathise with the grievance although have not put their names to it.
“There is a quick and simple process in cricket for dealing with player grievances, but this was delayed by the franchise and it has now taken more than four months to process this grievance. In the recent mediation process the independent mediator, Paddy Upton, who was nominated by the franchise itself and is an internationally recognised expert on coaching and team dynamics, made a clear recommendation to the parties that the coach should stand down from the team, and be re-deployed in a different capacity if possible.
“Despite this however, the board of the franchise proceeded to confirm the coach’s re-appointment and stated that Upton’s report was deficient. We and the players concerned strongly disagree with this suggestion of the report’s deficiency. Upton was brought in to get an understanding of the grievance and to assist in resolving it, and he was specifically empowered to use whatever approach he deemed appropriate in doing so. He looked at the documentation, including the surveys, interviewed the individuals he considered relevant and produced a thorough report with a clear recommendation to the parties.
“The players care about the Cobras team and its ability to perform going forward. They are however extremely frustrated by the way their very legitimate concerns, which were clearly evident over nine months ago, have been dealt with and the length of time it has taken. They want the franchise to address the issue further,” concluded Irish.