Acting your age

It’s a phrase that most of us can remember from our earliest teenage years, a rebuke handed out to us from the first days our parents attempted to invoke the ‘responsibility’ clause that they hoped would lead to self-policing. It’s the first step away from the prescriptive style of “do as I tell you.”

And it stays with us for the rest of our lives until the cycle turns back towards childlike behaviour as the mind declines in our final years. You still hear exasperated wives telling their husbands to “grow up” and “act your age” when they get together with school boy mates.

It appears to be at the root of a pressing problem in South Africa domestic cricket at the moment with the majority of the Cobras contracted Franchise players just weeks, or even days away from going on strike because they feel the relationship with their coach, Paul Adams, has deteriorated beyond repair.

The South African Cricketers Association (SACA) tried as far back as January this year to help the Franchise find a solution to a problem which was simmering at quite a temperature in the middle of last season. They suggested making use of the formal ‘grievance procedure’ as laid down in the MOU which exists between the SACA players and their employers, either CSA or their Franchises and Unions.

The Cobras prevaricated for three months until finally agreeing to use a mediator. It was, in fact, the Cobras’ suggestion to employ former Proteas performance manager, Paddy Upton, in the role. But when Upton’s exhaustive investigation led to the conclusion that Adams was unsuitable to continue in the post and should be redeployed to a different role (rather than sacked) they chose to ignore his advice and renewed Adams’ contract.

Adams was appointed at the age of 35. He is now 39, younger than when Jacques Kallis stopped playing. In his first couple of years there was a novelty value to his position and he was able to find his way behind a host of senior players who, frankly, needed little or no coaching or mentoring. But several of them have moved on and those who remain have grown tired of having a coach who acts his age.

Adams has found undesirable and even impossible to keep his own company when traveling, as he should at his age. He is a sociable man and enjoys the company of his players, as friends. But as successful coaches testify, it is impossible to be one of the boys in the evening and boss in the morning. Adams was simply acting his age.

The relationship between him and the players has now broken down irretrievably – according to them – and making them stay together would be akin to an acrimonious marriage clinging together for the sake of the kids. It may work in fits and starts, briefly, but it always ends badly.

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