Lions reject claims of board interference
The Lions have rejected claims of undue interference by their board in on-field matters but have not managed to convince South Africa Test opener Alviro Petersen to reconsider his decision to step down as captain. Petersen quit the captaincy on Sunday after what the Lions said "he perceived to be interference by the board and convener of selectors," - something the franchise says they have no evidence of.
On Wednesday, Lions' CEO Greg Fredericks told ESPNcricinfo he had "yet to pinpoint where the interference occurred," but understood Petersen's unhappiness to be centered on a meeting called by the Lions chairman Archie Pretorius. The discussion was held on Saturday and included Petersen, Pretorius, Lions' coach Geoff Toyana and convener of selectors Hussein Manack, who is also a national selector. Manack presented a "role clarification," session, which explained the responsibilities of the coach, captain and selectors.
According to Fredericks, Petersen saw the meeting as "interference from the selectors and offered to step down." He was asked to reconsider but on Sunday, Petersen told the board he was going to quit the captaincy. Thami Tsolekile took over hours before the match against the Knights.
Fredericks and Petersen met today to clear up issues surrounding his resignation and "put to bed" all concerns, as stated in a Lions' press release. "We have put the issue behind us and we want to move forward in the best interests of cricket," Fredericks said.
"Alviro requested me to clarify the perception that was created in the media that the CEO of Lions Cricket stated that he could find no evidence of interference by the selectors," Fredericks said. "In all my interviews with the media I mentioned that I could find no evidence or incidents of interference by the Board other than Alviro's view that the meeting convened by Hussein Manack on the instruction of the Chairperson of the Lions Board, in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 11 January was such."
Despite that, Petersen has opted not to rescind his decision to step down and the Lions have accepted his relinquishing the captaincy. "We respect Alviro's decision to resign as captain," Fredericks said. "All parties have now agreed to close the chapter on this matter and not to comment any further on it."
Petersen will continue playing for the Lions under Tsolekile, as he did in Wednesday's match against the table-topping Cobras. "I wish to finally put this episode behind me, and focus on playing cricket," Petersen said. "I want to congratulate Thami on his appointment as Lions' captain and wish him all the best."
The Lions, who are defending the ongoing Ram Slam T20 competition, are at the bottom of the points table after losing all three of their matches. Their next fixture is against the Titans on Friday in Potchefstroom.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent