Lance Klusener has played a few devastating innings in his career but nothing comes close to the enormity of his performance against his employers, the United Cricket Board.
Klusener sued the Board for loss of earnings after his contract was not renewed in April last year. Having been told that he was not selected for the tour of Bangladesh because he was being “rested”, Klusener (and his lawyers) reasoned that he had a case under South African Labour Law for unfair dismissal.
And he did. A very good case.
Finally, after months of haranguing their own lawyers for a way out of the mess, the UCB caved in and conceded defeat. Not a compromise or a part-settlement, but a complete and utter retreat. As complete a failure and defeat as it’s possible for administrators to suffer. In cricketing terms, Klusener struck a century of 50 balls. And then took 5-10.
Not only was he awarded a retrospective contract on full payment, but the Board were also ordered to pay a massive contribution towards Klusener’s considerable legal costs. Don’t be surprised if the defeat cost them close to a million rand.
But that is nothing compared to what it might cost them in the months ahead. Absolutely nothing.
At various times in the next four to six weeks, around 80 professional cricketers will be made redundant when the 11 provinces form the six new franchises. Many of those players are still in contract and many more, like Klusener, will have an excellent claim that they were given “reasonable expectation” of a contract.
If they take their claim for compensation to the CCMA most of their cases will not be a question of interpretation. The law is perfectly clear and the UCB would face instant bankruptcy.
Compensation paymets to Graham Ford, Craig Smith, Hylton Ackerman, Ian Smith and Lance Klusener – all sacked without following due legal processes – have cost the UCB millions of rand.
So how can they extricate from this miserable, sad mess? Well, there is a Trade Union that represents the professional cricketers of South Africa and they are keen to speak to the game’s governors. But the game’s wise men appear interested in paying no more than lip service to the South African Cricketers Association, and if that continues to be the case then they will pay the price.
And that price will be their jobs, reputations, empires and approximately 40 million rand. Plus costs.
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