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Ken Borland

CSA action against Lee more to do with her dishonesty than her weight – insiders claim

Posted on September 15, 2022 by Ken

Cricket South Africa’s decision to take action against Lizelle Lee had more to do with her dishonesty surrounding her fitness tests than her actual weight, CSA insiders have claimed.

Lee shocked the global game on July 8 when she suddenly announced her retirement from international cricket on the eve of the ODI series in England. Her joint statement with CSA, which also had input from the players’ association and her agent, said she felt she had “given everything I could to the Proteas” and “I feel that I am ready for the next phase in my career and will continue to play domestic T20 cricket around the world.”

It subsequently emerged that Lee had retired because CSA had withdrawn her from the tour of England and threatened to not give her a No Objection Certificate (NOC), which allows contracted players to ply their trade in overseas leagues. The 30-year-old claimed this was because she had failed a fitness test and, in a BBC podcast last week, she said the only aspect of the test she had failed was her weight.

But CSA insiders have told The Citizen that her misrepresentation of her weight was the major issue, and that the organisation was fed up with their continued struggles to get Lee fit.

The Citizen has seen correspondence between CSA and Lee which indicates that, before the tour to England, Lee was meant to go to Potchefstroom for fitness tests. She said, however, that she “wasn’t able” to go and Proteas strength and conditioning coach Zane Webster allowed her to do the testing in Ermelo, with the provision that she would then be retested in England.

Lee did the test with a biokineticist in Ermelo, but did not have her weight done because she said she had already measured it in the morning and passed on the number to Webster.

On July 5, between the two tour games before the ODI series, Proteas manager Sedibu Mohlaba sends Lee an urgent e-mail requesting clarity on what exactly happened with her Ermelo test.

Lee explains and says she was “afraid that it might … result in me not being selected. I know now that that was wrong and that I should have done it there.” 

On July 6, CSA’s Head of Cricket Pathways, Edward Khoza, emails Lee to tell her she has been immediately withdrawn from the tour for her “failure to meet the workload and fitness standards”, a contravention of her employment contract. He says they will not grant her an NOC until she has met and maintained the requirements.

“We tried corrective action, we were willing to bend over backwards for her,” a CSA insider said. “We were prepared to take her through a fitness programme like we did for Sisanda Magala and others.

“We then tried to protect her and not speak about these things, we did not want to demonise her in the statement she was part of. But now what she is saying is different to the statement which she, SACA and her agent were involved in.

“She was not honest with us, her fitness tests were fraudulently done. She is now trying to embarrass us and has gone rogue.”

Lee’s retirement has robbed the Proteas of one of their few truly world-class players, although she has been in poor form lately, not passing 40 in any of her nine innings for South Africa since September 2021.

Lee has also frustrated the team management with what has been described as her negative energy in the changeroom.

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