Big Bash League 2012-13

Steyn's BBL stint blocked by Cobras

Daniel Brettig and Firdose Moonda

December 5, 2012

Comments: 34 | Text size: A | A

Dale Steyn produced an early breakthrough, Australia v South Africa, first Test, day three, Brisbane, November 11, 2012
Dale Steyn won't be seen at the Gabba on Sunday night © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Dale Steyn

Brisbane Heat have been left irate at the revelation that Dale Steyn will miss his return bout with Ricky Ponting in the BBL after the Cape Cobras withdrew his permission to play at the last possible moment.

Instead of flying from Perth to Brisbane ahead of the Heat's match against Ponting's Hobart Hurricanes on Sunday, Steyn will return home in order to play for the Cobras in a domestic limited overs semi-final on the same day.

Having signed Steyn up for the one-off fixture six weeks ago and secured a no objection certificate from the South Africa board, the Heat are understandably angered by the loss of their big-name signing a mere four days before curtain-up at the Gabba.

"We conducted all of our negotiations with Dale and his management in good faith and fulfilled all requirements that the BBL needed in order to sign him as one of our international players,'' the Heat general manager Andrew Blucher said.

"We provided signed contracts, a NOC that was provided six weeks ago by Cricket South Africa and were completely up front in what we proposed.

"We now find ourselves less than a week out from the opening game without a key element of our pre-game preparations and that is terribly disappointing for the team and our fans and members, who were eagerly anticipating seeing Dale play.

"Dale is also unhappy with this outcome. He was looking forward to the match, and of course has a very good relationship with our coach Darren Lehman.

"He and his manager are embarrassed and upset about the way things have turned out, considering we were crystal clear with what we had communicated to Cricket South Africa.

"We would have imagined that CSA and the Cobras would have consulted and worked out the various scenarios that would have been involved. For that not to happen is quite extraordinary and highly unprofessional."

The Cobras' unwillingness to allow Steyn to play for the Heat only emerged in the aftermath of South Africa's win in the third Test in Perth, as it became apparent he might be available for their domestic commitments. The batsman Faf du Plessis, who is due to take part on the semi-final for the Titans, will play in the BBL tournament opener for the Melbourne Renegades on Friday.

Jacques Faul, the CSA chief executive, expressed regret at the episode. "We regret having to withdraw the NOC. We are not in a position to determine which teams will be involved in the final play-off matches at the end of the competition," he said. "Players and their agents also have a duty to consult with the home franchise in this regard.

"We have an obligation to our local sponsors and franchises to play the Proteas wherever possible. We will also consider withdrawing a NOC due to workload management or safety reasons.If Cobras were not in the play-off, I am sure it would not have been a problem. We apologise if the one-off match in Australia caused so much drama. In future it might be better not clear any players in our season,in the past we have aimed to help where we can. We also advise players and agents to first negotiate with their home franchise. I have explained this to [Cricket Australia CEO] James Sutherland during our meeting in Dubai.

"We are thankful for the support of our sponsors and cricket supporters who have the right to see the best in the world play in the domestic competitions. If you assess the number of players from SA playing outside the country and the number of NOC's we issue, it is clear that we acknowledge the opportunities available but unfortunately have to balance this with being fair to local sponsors.

"In saying all of this ,we have to admit that releasing the initial NOC was a mistake, we should have waited to see who is in the play-off. We apologise for that."

Cobras' coach, Paul Adams, said the matter was a straightforward one for the franchise: "It's simple. I want the best bowler in my team [to play] this key play-off game."

Lehmann said he would now attempt in the little time he has remaining to find a replacement international player for the match. "We had a spot free so while it is quite late in the piece, we had looked at some contingency plans with a few players in the event we had something like this happen," Lehmann said. "We'll get on the phone and email and see what is possible."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent.

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 10:34 GMT)

I think Steyn and many other South African Protea players should not forget their domestic sides and also realise the impact they have on other young cricketers. There are many talented youngsters in the SA domestic setup that would benefit greatly from playing alongside the likes of Steyn and Kallis. I believe the absence of Protea players involved in domestic competitions is the reason for SA's lack of specialist bowlers and batsmen coming up. They should be mentors for the young guys. Problem is the international calendar is too packed and key players like Steyn will need rest.

Posted by Simoc on (December 6, 2012, 8:51 GMT)

Who cares. It's only Brisbane and the overheated. They are nothing. Come and play in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne for sure but among the posers and irrelevant, it's just not Steyn.

Posted by Gazooligan on (December 6, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

I agree that Steyn's locals should get priority to see him play. International "dropping in" of big names in cricket makes for increased excitement (and revenue) but it is good to maintain a sense of home loyalty where possible. I guess that's where planning and negotiation come into play. In this case it would seem that is where things fell apart, and I think the management of the man in the limelight should take a good degree of responsibility for this. They made the commitment and really should be the ones looking for any potential obstacles to contracted obligations. We don't need these things becoming big news stories - just let the punters go along and enjoy watching the action!

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

As a Queenslander and a Brisbane Heat supporter, I admire loyalty and Steyn should play for his home side before all others. It just would have been nice for the Cobras to give us a bit more time to organise someone else. :)

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 6, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

Personally disappointed, but obviously a mix up with CSA & the local comps not communicating clearly as all parties would have been aware of Steyn's decision weeks ago - seems odd though at this very late call by the Cobras' & not in the best interests of Steyn as long flights are not a bowlers best friend... Been a number of late calls by some other countries boards, so guess the BBL teams will be wiser in the future on wasting time & money on players that don't turn up after signing contracts...

Posted by Robster1 on (December 6, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

Of course Steyn should be playing for the Cobras in their semi final. It is his home team to whixh he is contracted. No more need be said.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2012, 2:08 GMT)

Great to see that no matter the level of cricket some things never change...Darren Lehman having to do a ring around to make up the numbers whne you have a last minute drop out. My advice from past experience is the pub on the night before the match is a good bet. You can usually talk someone who has had a few into playing.

Posted by Meety on (December 6, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

I feel sorry for Steyn, deprived of playing for a team that won't choke at an International event!

Posted by Mitcher on (December 5, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

@edgie: You're missing the point. The problem is Cobras said one thing and flipped at the last minute. Besides, I don't really think Australians in general are getting 'huffy'. Just the franchise, which seems fairly reasonable.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (December 5, 2012, 21:05 GMT)

@rajeev129 apparently you don't know much about the Brisbane heat's side this year. They are very good all round. Watson/Burns/Johnson/McDermott/Cutting/Forrest/Vettori. They are favourited for a top 4 finish and good shots at winning.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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