South Australia halt coach search amid COVID-19 staff cuts
A hiring freeze brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has forced the SACA to put on hold it's search for a new head coach
Andrew Ramsey in Adelaide
26 March 2020, 06:42 PM AEST
The financial turmoil unleashed by the COVID19 pandemic has forced South Australia Cricket Association to temporarily shelve their hunt for a new coach.
SACA Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw had indicated earlier this month the organisation hoped a replacement for Jamie Siddons – whose tenure was ended by mutual agreement – would be made within a month or so.
However, in an email sent to SACA members tonight, the Association's President Andrew Sinclair announced a hiring freeze triggered by the stark economic downturn would extend to all listed vacancies, including the position of Redbacks head coach.
Among the names touted for the role have been former SA and Test fast bowler Jason Gillespie as well as ex-Australia assistant coach Michael Di Venuto, both of whom have recently returned to Australia from their coaching positions in the UK where the county cricket season has been postponed.
Others mentioned as possible replacements for Siddons, who took over the job in 2015, are Cricket Australia development coaches (and ex-Test players) Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers, as well as former SA batter Jeff Vaughan who is currently assistant coach with Tasmania.
SA finished bottom of the Marsh Sheffield Shield ladder for the third consecutive season in 2019-20, having reached consecutive finals in Siddons's first two years as coach.
The decision to suspend the recruitment process for a senior coach comes as the SACA significantly reduced its staff numbers amid a severe financial downturn, compounded by the postponement of the Australian Football League season.
As a partner in the Stadium Management Authority, which administers Adelaide Oval, the SACA has been badly hit by the absence of weekly football matches as well as other events staged at the venue (such as concerts) for the foreseeable future.
"It is now apparent that SACA’s financial operating position has been, and will continue to be, severely affected as this situation continues," Sinclair told members.
"While we are now in the cricket 'off-season', the shutdown of Adelaide Oval (and all associated match/event revenues) impacts us significantly as a fifty per cent joint-venture partner in the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority.
"As a response, SACA has been forced to implement significant cost-saving measures.
"The focus of these measures is to ensure that we can continue to operate and that we can get back to our role of providing cricket programs and matches across South Australia when conditions improve."
Among the workforce changes announced today was the termination or redundancy of 23 full-time staff, while remaining employees will take a 20 per cent reduction in working hours and salary with Bradshaw and the executive team continuing full-time, but also with a 20 per cent pay cut.
Cricket Australia has recommended all cricket played within the community is ceased for the remainder of the 2019-20 season The decision is supported by all State and Territory Associations Details: https://t.co/g79XrcNjDS pic.twitter.com/6RSqVSKrvH— SACA News (@SACAnews) March 17, 2020
"These decisions have not been made lightly – people are our number one priority," Sinclair said.
"However, we need to act in the best interests of SACA as we face one of the toughest times in our 149-year history.
"We will continue to plan for next year’s cricket season, with the hope that we can all return to normality as soon as possible."
SACA will close its operations (except for membership services) from Monday until the conclusion of the Easter holiday on April 20.