Petersen to meet Lions CEO over resignation issue
South Africa batsman Alviro Petersen and Greg Fredericks, the CEO of the Lions franchise, will meet on Thursday to resolve the issues over Petersen's resignation as captain of the Lions.
Petersen quit leadership of the team on Sunday morning, shortly before the Lions' match against the Knights, and Thami Tsolekile took over. On Monday night, the Lions announced via a press release that Petersen had officially stepped down "following what he perceived to be interference by the board and convener of selectors."
Fredericks told ESPNcricinfo he is yet to "pinpoint exactly where the interference occurred," which is why he had requested a meeting with Petersen. "This is the last thing we could afford at this stage," Fredericks said. "One thing I can say is that I don't think there is widespread discontent or anything like that, it's limited to certain issues."
Petersen was unwilling to comment until after the meeting but a report in The Star , a reliable daily, claimed his grievance, along with those of "a number of Lions' players and members of the coaching staff," is "over the conduct of (convener of selectors Hussein) Manack." Manack, who is also a national selector, has been accused of "going beyond his scope as selector." The story revealed that there were also claims Manack was involving himself in choosing the final XI and on-field strategy.
According to Fredericks, the flare-up over this occurred during the Ram Slam T20 opener on January 5, when the Lions lost to the Warriors. The Lions were chasing 141 to win and were stuttering on 73 for 4 when Petersen was run out by his partner Gulam Bodi, which a source close to the Lions said sparked Petersen's unhappiness. "A lot of incidents took place during the week after that," Fredericks said, declining to go into detail, "Our chairman Archie Pretorius felt the board needed to sit down with the coach and captain."
The following Saturday, on January 11, the scheduled meeting took place. There, according to Fredericks, "we had a session on role clarification." Present that day were Petersen, Manack, Lions' coach Geoff Toyana and members of the Lions board.
Part of the discussion was establishing, "that the selectors pick the team, the coach prepares them for the match and the captain leads them on the field." It was in that meeting according to Fredericks that Petersen, "felt there was interference from the selectors and said he would step down."
Petersen was convinced to hold back on his decision but only did so until Sunday, when he stepped down before the match. "The board asked Thami to take over," Fredericks said. Petersen played in the match, which the Lions lost by nine wickets.
The following day, Fredericks requested another meeting with Petersen to clear up why he had refused to captain. "Petersen said he was not a puppet, he will not accept interference and won't let someone else tell him the game plan," Fredericks said. "When I asked who determines the batting order and things like that, he said the coach and the captain, so I have not been able to pinpoint what the interference is."
The Lions travel to Paarl to play the Cobras tomorrow and despite the controversy, Fredericks expects Petersen to be part of the team. The competition is still in its early stages but the Lions are bottom of the table with no points to their name.
Their dip in form is severe after they enjoyed their most successful season in seven summers last year when they won the T20 cup, shared the one-day trophy and finished second in the first-class competition. This season, they finished last in the one-day cup but have made good progress in the four-day competition, where they are currently second.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent