Dolphins terminate contracts of five seniors
The Dolphins franchise has terminated the contracts of five senior players with immediate effect, with a view to developing younger players and unearthing local talent. Andrew Hall, Johann Louw, Alfonso Thomas, Pierre de Bruyn and Hylton Ackerman - whose contracts were to expire at the end of the season - have been informed that they are no longer required by the Durban-based team.
"We need to develop younger players," Jessie Chellan, the KwaZulu-Natal CEO said. "Everything was done in an amicable way and all the players understood why we were letting them go." He said the franchise wanted to concentrate more resources on unearthing local talent that would form the squad's base. Richard Pybus and Lance Klusener have also been roped in as additional coaches to work alongside Graham Ford.
Ackerman believed the franchise did the "right thing", given the unsuccessful season they have had. "In terms of moving forward, the franchise, literally, does not have the right personnel in terms of players," he told Cricinfo. "If you look at the players, all of them do okay but there are no match-winning performers."
Ackerman has not played for the Dolphins since November last year and he said he was "not surprised" to hear that they had no further use for him. "I'm not upset, but for someone like Johann, who has been successful, it's not a nice thing to have happened. There was a general feeling that the franchise was shopping around too much and not bringing their own players in, so it's a good thing that they are going to develop players."
Of the five players, Louw is the only one from the region. Ackerman is originally from the Cape, but spent time at the Lions and the Warriors. Hall is from Johannesburg as well but signed with the Dolphins on his return from the unofficial ICL. De Bruyn and Thomas were part of the Titans.
Despite the amicable settlement, Tony Irish, CEO of the South African Cricketer's Association (SACA) said his organisation would be looking into the matter. "We don't believe that what happened was right for the players," said Irish. "All of them are technically out of a job from today." Chellan confirmed that Irish had began discussions with him but said that only one player had an issue regarding the termination of his contract.
All five players - who will be paid the amounts outstanding on their contracts - appear to have plans in place for the future. Ackerman was due to retire at the end of the season and will be doing television commentary, while Thomas and Hall both have County contracts. Louw will be playing for the Cape Cobras.
The Dolphins have had a poor season and are winless in the Standard Bank Pro20, with one match to go. They did make it to the MTN40 final, after a surprise victory over the Titans and they lie second from the bottom in the SuperSport Series. They have named an inexperienced side, with four franchise debutants, to take on the Lions in a Pro20 match on Friday. The new faces are Cameron Delport, Vyash Gobind, Ruan Pietersen and Khaya Zondo, all of whom hail from Natal and have been playing in the amateur divison.
Firdose Moonda is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg