Pro-Adams Ontong: You can’t just pass the buck

Justin OntongFile image: Paul Adams and Justin Ontong.

Limited-overs captain Justin Ontong has defended Paul Adams, after 14 contracted Cape Cobras players made an official complaint against the head coach.

Earlier this week, South African Cricketers’ Association Head of Player Services and Advocacy Andrew Breetzke confirmed to Club Cricket SA: “The majority of the contracted Cobras players have lodged a formal grievance. The grievance relates to a material breakdown in their relationship with the coach.”

Proteas cricketers Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, JP Duminy and Stiaan van Zyl – and former T20I international captain Ontong – are among the 18 players contracted by the Cobras.

The other 10 are first-class captain Omphile Ramela, wicketkeeper-batsmen Andrew Puttick and Dane Vilas, batsmen Keegan Petersen and Richard Levi – and seamers Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson, Lizaad Williams, Rory Kleinveldt and Tshepo Moreki.

The 36-year-old Ontong, however, is not one of the 14 aggrieved.

“It boggles my mind – we are trying to find out what the complaints are about. My understanding is that some other players have drawn up a petition against Adams, detailing their unhappiness,” Business Day quoted Ontong as saying.

“As a captain, I’m disappointed. None of the players came to me saying they were unhappy with the coach. We had a bad season but, it’s also about players taking responsibility for their own performances — we all didn’t perform very well.

You can’t just pass the buck and say the coach was to blame.”

Former South Africa spin bowler Adams assumed his current position in 2012. The Cape Cobras shared the Momentum One Day Cup title with the Lions and Titans in 2012-13 and 2013-14 – and won South Africa’s premier first-class competition, the Sunfoil Series, in the same seasons. In 2014-15, they clinched the Ram Slam T20 Challenge crown.

The 2015-16 season brought defeat in the One Day Cup final, a semi-final exit in the T20 Challenge – and a disappointment fourth-place finish in the Sunfoil Series on the back of just three wins in 10 fixtures.

Claims that Adams will promptly be succeeded by new assistant coach Ashwell Prince, meanwhile, remain unsubstantiated.