Cobras v Adams cleared for legal take-off

TMG Digital


TELFORD VICE, Cape Town

THE stand-off between Cobras players and their coach, Paul Adams, leapt the boundary on Wednesday when the SA Cricketers’ Association (SACA) took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The move is the latest twist in a saga that has been brewing for months and came to a head two weeks ago when it emerged that 10 of the franchise’s 17 contracted players had filed a formal grievance against Adams.

A SACA release on Wednesday spoke of “a breakdown in the relationship between the majority of the Cobras players and the head coach”.

“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,” the release said

Central to the drama is a report by former SA team director Paddy Upton, who was appointed as a mediator by an independent panel formed by the board of Western Cape Cricket (WCC) to investigate the players’ claims.

“Paddy’s report is an internal document and hasn’t been made available to the media at this stage,” SACA chief executive Tony Irish told TMG Digital.

“I can however confirm that after conducting a number of interviews and looking at all the relevant documents he outlined three possible scenarios and the benefits and risks relating to each of those.

“The first was to continue with the coach with no changes.

“The second was to continue with the coach with an additional support structure around him, and the third was for him to stand down as head coach and be redeployed elsewhere in Western Province cricket.

“Given the risks and upsides attaching to each scenario, and the extent of the breakdown in the relationship, Paddy clearly recommended that the parties should agree to the third scenario.”

But, after studying Upton’s report, WCC decided to retain Adams – who has been offered a new two-year contract that, reportedly, remains unsigned.

It appears WCC didn’t follow Upton’s advice because, they said in a release last Tuesday, “The board found material deficiencies in Upton’s report as he did not fully discharge the mandate given to him to speak to all the contracted players.”

Irish took issue with that view: “As a mediator his role was to understand the grievance and assist in resolving it.

“He didn’t need to interview every single player to do this and he was specifically mandated to use whatever approach he considered appropriate.

“His report demonstrates a very thorough understanding of the grievance and his recommendation of how it should be resolved.”

That that has not happened means “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”, the SACA release quoted Irish as saying.

The fact that, under Adams, the Cobras have won or shared four trophies in five years across all formats would seem to be a mitigating factor. But not in the ranks of the disgruntled.

“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,” the statement quoted Irish as saying. 

Despite all that Adams and his players will be at the Wanderers next Wednesday to play the Lions in their opening first-class match of the season.

The dressingroom promises to be quieter than usual, except for the ticking all involved might hear in their heads.

That’s because a hearing will be held within 30 days of the CCMA serving papers on WCC.

Whatever the CCMA says will not be binding on any party.

But, in the real world, when workers aren’t satisfied with CCMA rulings, they go on strike.

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