Tsotsobe's sudden switch upsets Warriors
An update on the transfers in domestic cricket in South Africa
Lonwabo Tsotsobe has become embroiled in his second off-season debacle in as many years. Last season, Tsotsobe angered Essex when he posted a comment on Twitter calling his stint there "the worst two months of my life", and was released from his contract after five weeks. This time, he has angered his home franchise, the Warriors, leaving them without warning for the Durban-based Dolphins.
Tsotsobe's switch to the Dolphins was announced on Friday when chief executive Jesse Chellan confirmed that Tsotsobe opted to play for them in the 2012-13 season and not the Warriors, where he has spent his entire career. Although Tsotsobe did not break any agreement with his home franchise, because he is a nationally contracted player and can nominate which team he wants to represent in accordance with CSA's policy, ESPNcricinfo has learned that the Warriors were unhappy with Tsotsobe's conduct.
They claim to have made numerous attempts to contact the left-arm bowler to discuss his future and iron out details, only to be met with no response. "He is a professional cricketer and he must do what he wants but we are not happy with the way that it happened," a source close to the Warriors said.
Tsotsobe joins former Lions seamer Craig Alexander at the Dolphins, and will beef up a bowling contingent that has lost the now retired Friedel de Wet. The quick, who is also a horticulturalist, played two Test matches for South Africa but has struggled with persistent back injuries throughout his career. "Lopsy [Tsotsobe] will add a great deal of value to our team," Chellan said. "Even though we know he will not be available a lot of the time because of national commitments, he will help [develop] some of our young fast bowlers [like] Mtokozisi Shezi and Kyle Abbot."
Other movements at the Dolphins include the signing of Lions' batsman Jonathan Vandiar, who is originally from Kwa-Zulu Natal, to replace Loots Bosman. Bosman lost his national contract at the beginning of April and was not offered a deal with the Dolphins. He has failed to find form after reconstructive knee surgery two seasons ago. Dolphins have also lost Pakistan-born legspinner Imran Tahir, after two seasons, to the Lions. "Imran is a quality cricket and his loss will affect us," Chellan said. "We have a gap to fill in the spin department and we may look to sign an overseas professional."
Tahir will be the first-choice slow bowler at Lions, despite their swelling spin ranks - Aaron Phangiso, Dale Deeb and Eddie Leie have all put on notable performances in the past season. "We may want to play the additional spinner when we can," Cassim Docrat, Lions chief executive said. Lions have long struggled to find or produce quality quicks, which may have prompted the move to tweakers. They have, however, also acquired the services of Hardus Viljoen, who opened the bowling with Marchant de Lange at Easterns.
Dolphins are also on the hunt for a new coach after Graham Ford left mid-season when he was appointed Sri Lanka head coach. Lance Klusener stood in as interim coach and is unlikely to take the job full time. The position has been advertised and applications close on April 20 with Chellan hopeful of announcing the successful candidate at the end of May.
The other franchise looking for a new coach is Cape Cobras, following Richard Pybus' unexpected resignation at the end of the season. Pybus won the one-day cup with the franchise in the 2011-12 season, but rumoured player unhappiness caused his exit. Andre Odendaal, chief executive, said the advertisement for the post went out this week and franchise is targeting the month of July to announce a successor.
Cobras have not had any big movers in the player list but failed to offer former national star Herschelle Gibbs a contract. It marks the first time the batsman has been out of contract in South Africa in 21 years. Gibbs had retired from first-class cricket but continued to represent Cobras in limited-overs forms of the game. Recently, he has plied his trade in various Twenty20 leagues around the world, including Australia's Big Bash, the BPL and IPL, and has not always been available for Cobras.
Nonetheless, Odendaal said they would welcome his participation on an ad hoc basis. "We will speak to him and his agent when he comes back from India and would love him to play for us if he is fit and available," Odendaal said. "We understand that he has been making use of Twenty20 leagues, but he is an institution of Newlands and we would still want to see him play here."
Cobras are not short of batsmen though. They have contracted Qassim Adams, a left-hander who played for the seventh franchise Impi in the MiWay T20 Challenge. Adams has been prolific for Western Province, scoring over 1000 runs in the 2011-12 season at an average of 52.94. Cobras also welcome back quick bowler Monde Zondeki, who has been without a contract for two seasons and has had regular stress fractures but is now fit.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent