at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Several senior members of the Gauteng Cricket Board were locked in an urgent meeting last night in an attempt to resolve a crisis that saw Alviro Petersen resign as captain at the weekend, and selection convenor Hussein Manack accused of being “power hungry”.
Last night’s meeting, called by GCB president Thabang Moroe, capped a dramatic day at the Wanderers which saw new chief executive Greg Fredericks hold talks with Petersen and Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana to understand the roots of an impasse that saw a livid Petersen step down as captain just hours before the Lions’ RamSlam T20 match against the Knights in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The franchise was left in an embarrassing position as Thami Tsolekile, a late call-up to the squad, was made captain, despite not having done so at all this season.
Tsolekile stated in a television interview conducted at the toss before Sunday’s match that the board had taken a decision to install him as skipper.
There was also the farcical situation of Tsolekile taking the gloves while Quinton de Kock, the incumbent wicket-keeper in the South African limited overs sides was consigned to the boundary.
It is understood that a number of Lions players and members of the coaching staff are furious with the conduct of Manack, who is also a Board member and serves as one of the national team’s selectors.
Manack has been accused of “interfering” in team affairs and going beyond his scope as a selector by picking the final playing eleven and extraordinarily wanting to play a role in the drawing up of the team’s on-field strategies.
Last season the role of the selectors was to pick the squad while the make-up of the final 11 was left to the coach and captain. It is understood that at the Champions League T20 tournament earlier this season, Manack and a few of the Board members involved themselves in the selection of the final 11, much to the chagrin of Toyana and skipper Petersen.
Toyana wouldn’t comment yesterday, beyond saying that the Lions were not a happy side at the moment.
“There are a few things floating around,” he remarked. He added that he still felt he was “respected” in his position as coach.
The Lions had an outstanding summer last season, their most successful since the franchise system was instituted in 2003/04. They won the RamSlam T20 Challenge, shared the Momentum One-Day Cup crown with the Cape Cobras and finished runners-up to the Cobras in the Sunfoil Series. In addition they made a surprise run to the final of the prestigious Champions League T20, beating three Indian Premier League sides in the process.
This season has been somewhat of a disaster by comparison. They won just one match in the Momentum One-Day Cup, finishing bottom of the log, they’ve won two out of four matches in the Sunfoil Series – though they remain a close second to the Knights in that competition – while they are in last place in defence of their RamSlam T20 title, having lost their first two matches by hefty margins.
This season’s Champions League T20 campaign was a polar opposite to the last one, as they lost all their matches.
No one was able to say if Petersen would be recalled as captain. He refused to comment until he had heard the outcome of last night’s meeting. Manack was still in the meeting last night at the time of going to press.
The Lions face a daunting trip to Paarl tomorrow to face the Cape Cobras in the T20 competition. - The Star