Vernon Philander’s grievances with Cricket SA are related to contract disputes during the latter stages of his career, and also CSA’s failure to honour a long-service payment.
Cape Town – Former Proteas all-rounder Vernon Philander has undertaken legal action against his former employers Cricket South Africa, due to an alleged breach of contract.
Philander, 36, played 111 internationals across all formats for the Proteas over a 13-year period. He retired in January 2020 after the last Test against England at the Wanderers.
Philander’s grievances with Cricket SA are related to contract disputes during the latter stages of his career, and also CSA’s failure to honour a long-service payment.
“It was during the 2018 tour of Sri Lanka when Cricket SA were very concerned about players leaving the national team and taking up Kolpak contracts in England. We had just lost a host of bowlers like Kyle (Abbott), Marchant (de Lange), Parny (Wayne Parnell) to Kolpak and Morné Morkel also retired to join Surrey.
“CSA were worried about losing more and they were aware that I had plenty of offers from a number of English counties,” Philander told IOL Sport.
“It was at this stage that Corrie van Zyl (CSA’s former acting director of cricket and head of pathways and development) flew to Colombo to discuss my future with the Proteas. Firstly, my agent Arthur Turner should have been present in those meetings but obviously wasn’t because we were in Sri Lanka.
“It was during these meetings that it was discussed that my contract would be upgraded if I remained eligible for the Proteas. After the meetings I immediately called Arthur and told him I was happy with the proposal and that I would continue playing for the Proteas in terms of the new agreements.”
Philander claims that CSA honoured the new contract, but only for one season before being downgraded again.
“I was paid the new amount for the next season, but not the following year. I was told that due to me not playing franchise cricket they could not pay me what was previously agreed upon. This has no bearing on my national contract. They presented their ‘ranking system’ which made no sense as I had actually gone up in the ICC Test rankings.”
After retiring from international cricket Philander signed a Kolpak deal with English county Somerset, but the contract was by mutual agreement cancelled after the 2020 season was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Philander has approached the South African Cricketers Association (Saca) for assistance in regards to his dispute with CSA, but nothing has come to fruition.
“I have spoken to Saca about what’s happened to me as they are the players’ workers union, but their message has been that it is between me and CSA,” Philander said.
Saca chief executive Andrew Breetzke has acknowledged that “Saca were not a party to this (contract) negotiation and cannot therefore comment”, but stated the players’ organisation and CSA were in discussions relating to a “retention fund”.
“In negotiating the 2018 MOU Agreement, we introduced a number of measures to ensure that we were able to retain our best players in the face of other playing opportunities around the world,” Breetzke said.
“Key to this was introducing ‘red-ball’ payments linked to ICC events – this was to compensate Proteas players who were not selected for the financially lucrative ICC events.
“Vernon benefitted from this ‘red-ball’ payment in 2019 (ICC World Cup). Saca and CSA also agreed to work towards establishing a Retention Fund – to retain players in the system, and reward them for years of service. Saca set aside R10 Million towards this initiative.
“Unfortunately the initiative never materialised, due primarily to CSA’s financial challenges and the CSA turmoil of 2019, when individuals working on the initiative were suspended and dismissed. In so far as Vernon is in dispute on the issue of his contract negotiation with CSA, Saca were not a party to this negotiation and cannot therefore comment.”
CSA’s Head of Media Thami Mthembu stated that “CSA won’t be making a public pronouncement on the status of the negotiations until the two (legal) parties have concluded the current round(s) of engagements” but that CSA “view all our players both current and former as critical stakeholders and the true ambassadors of the game.”