The Cobras players will apply for the right to strike after failing to resolve concerns over coach Paul Adams with the Western Cape Cricket (WCC) board. The long-standing issues continue after the board refused to implement a recommendation by the country's dispute resolution body, the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to appoint an independent assessor to look into Adams' suitability for the job.
While the CCMA cannot make a binding ruling, it can issue confirmation of unresolved matters which then allows for lawful and protected industrial action.
"Any kind of industrial action is always a very last resort for players and we hope it doesn't come to that," Tony Irish, CEO of the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), said. "However the players have been asking the franchise to properly address this issue for many months, but to no avail, and have exhausted every constructive process available to them with the franchise. We will now seek Cricket South Africa's assistance and intervention before considering what further steps to take."
At the end of the last season, the players expressed their concerns over Adams' tactical acumen and man-management skills following a trophy-less summer - the first since he took over in 2012. Over the winter, Adams underwent a leadership course and was offered a new two-year contract, prompting the players to ask for SACA's assistance.
They players raised a formal grievance with the board, who brought in Paddy Upton, the former South Africa assistant coach, as a mediator. In a report which has not been made public, Upton recommended Adams be moved to another role at the Cobras and a new coach be sought.
The WCC dismissed Upton's 'materially deficient' report since he had not interviewed all the franchise players. Instead, they appointed Ashwell Prince as Adams' assistant and Alan Dawson as convener of selectors. Dawson has since resigned, citing an inability to make an impact given the fundamental problem between the players and the coach.
While the players have not made public their exact complaints about Adams, they continue to speak through SACA about their disappointment in what they see as WCC's unwillingness to solve the situation.
"SACA and the players are disappointed by the franchise's response to our proposals on a process which we believe would have resolved the matter once and for all," Irish said. We had proposed a process for an independent cricket person to monitor and assess the coach's situation on the ground within the team over a three-week period and thereafter to make a recommendation as to what should happen with the coaching situation. His recommendation would be accepted by all, and binding on the players.
"The franchise has however rejected the proposal out of hand without proposing any alternative, despite having indicated to us that they were in favour of some form of monitoring. It is very obvious that the franchise team is in disarray. The most frustrating aspect is that it appears that the board of the franchise simply refuses to acknowledge that there is actually a problem at all, despite everything that has happened, and is now happening, around it. "
The unhappiness has spilled onto the field too. The Cobras have lost three of their first four first-class matches and are playing their fifth without captain Omphile Ramela, who is suspended following disciplinary action on an unrelated matter.