Cricket coach fired

2013-06-27 00:00

THE head of cricket at St Charles College has been fired for speaking out over the removal of the school’s first team cricket captain in January.

Bruce Roberts’s sacking has escalated the row over the demotion of the school’s 17-year-old First XI cricket captain.

The contentious matter came under the spotlight for the first time in May this year when the boy’s father approached the Pietermaritzburg high court in an attempt to obtain an order reinstating his son.

Despite ongoing mediation, the dispute hotted up again earlier this month when the father sent a letter of demand to the first team’s cricket coach, Dave Karlsen — whom he blames for ruining his son’s cricket career — for payment of R2,1 million in damages.

Roberts, a former “Mean Machine” Transvaal provincial cricketer and ex-Derbyshire county cricketer with over 200 first class games to his name, was appointed head of cricket at St Charles College on August 1 last year.

He confirmed yesterday that he was dismissed on June 10, following a disciplinary inquiry. His dismissal was confirmed in writing on June 14.

This followed his earlier suspension since May 28.

Roberts was charged by the school with “gross misconduct” for sending an e-mail to the father of the pupil concerned allegedly “offering advice” to him regarding the legal dispute he had with the school over his son.

It was alleged that in the e-mail, dated May 27, Roberts made statements that were “intended to damage the reputation of and bring the name of St Charles College into disrepute”.

Roberts told The Witness yesterday that he has already taken steps to dispute the fairness of his dismissal in the CCMA. In a statement, approved by his attorney Alex Rocher, he said his actions in communicating with the boy’s father stem-med from the fact that he was not included in the process whereby the pupil was removed as captain.

He also said that despite having “implored” the college to involve him in the impasse between the cricketer’s parent and the school, the principal had excluded him from playing any role in the resolution of the dispute. He said he believed he could have made a meaningful impact.

Roberts said instead the college chose to deal with the matter “under extreme secrecy” to the point of excluding him, which he believed was not in the best interests of the college, the pupil and the wider college community.

Roberts further revealed that he has other “unresolved grievances” with Karlsen, who the pupil’s father accused of maliciously dropping his son as the captain of the team. Roberts said these grievances had “remained unresolved since November 2012”.

He had been invited to take part in a formal grievance resolution process on May 27 but as a result of his dismissal (and suspension from May 28), the formal grievance procedure was not convened by the college.

St Charles College principal Allen van Blerk last night confirmed that Roberts was dismissed as head of cricket.

“I believe that out of respect for Mr Roberts that the details are private and I would expect since he is contesting the decision that no public comments are constructive at this stage,” he said in an e-mail.

Late yesterday, president of the KZN Inland Cricket Union, Yunus Bhamjee, who is attempting to steer the parties to a settlement, said mediation in the matter was continuing, but declined to give further details.

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