The Hawke's Bay senior men's representative cricketers have submitted a letter of concern asking that sacked coach Colin Schaw be reinstated to see out this season.
All bar two players in the squad have been listed in the letter emailed to Hawke's Bay Cricket Association chief executive Craig Findlay on December 20 last year, a day after he officially announced the termination of Schaw's contract as coach.
"To promote future success, the players' group believe that the decision to replace Colin as coach should be deferred until the [conclusion] of the current season," says the letter, which has the name of captain Jacob Smith as the first of 17 names listed including Black Caps allrounder Doug Bracewell and fellow Central Districts Stags players Ajaz Patel and Blair Tickner.
A copy of the letter was sent to Hawke's Bay Today this week as the Pay Excellence-sponsored team prepare to play Whanganui away this weekend in round four of the two-day, zone 2 Furlong Cup-qualifying match to see who will earn the right to challenge for the Hawke Cup, the national symbol of minor association cricket in the country.
Craig Ross, the HBCA high-performance operations manager, is now the interim coach of the team sitting a point behind leaders Taranaki with two matches to play.
Some players HB Today spoke to say they didn't want to express their disappointment individually for fear of jeopardising their careers although some also feel disclosing the letter can derail their cup campaign.
"We're pretty shocked about the whole situation because of how much Colin and [wife] Jenny Schaw have done for the team over the years," says a player who feels with more knowledge on the subject the squad believes the coach from Central Hawke's Bay was sacked "unfairly".
"We don't really want to play under anyone else this year so I think that's why we wrote a letter and were disappointed we didn't get any response from Hawke's Bay Cricket," says the player, happy to honour the board's decision at the end of this summer considering Schaw's record with the team.
Another player says Schaw is the ultimate team man and has kept his silence for the sake of not letting his plight detract from the collective campaign but the players feel the reasons for his sacking lacks transparency from HBCA.
Ross called for a training on Monday afternoon but players say it was called off because of a poor response to it.
"I'm not surprised because we did say in the letter we didn't want to play under anyone else and I don't think it'll get better until we get a response, at the least," the player says.
A player says the Bay team are one of the best minor association senior men's sides in the country but politics is undermining that reputation.
He says the sacking is an administrative one and not the players' wishes "so it's a pretty sad state to be in, really".
"It's pretty sad to see that we won the Chapple Cup and Hawke Cup under Colin and they want to appoint someone else."
The letter says the squad has been an "extremely tight-knit" one for almost three full seasons under the tutelage of Schaw.
"Colin has instilled a culture of hard work, discipline and loyalty. He has supported all of us in our development as players [so] now it is time we support him as 'our' coach. The mere fact we are writing to you is evidence of how strongly we back our coach," it says.
Labelling him the most successful Bay senior men's rep coach in recent decades, the letter outlines his passion for the team and his players which "cannot be questioned".
"With only two remaining Furlong Cup matches and, potentially, a Hawke Cup challenge this season, we believe the timing of the association's decision is hard to understand.
"We believe this decision could well jeopardise a successful formula that has been flourishing this season."
The region's common goal is to regain the Hawke Cup and Schaw joins that drive as a leading figure.
"We strongly believe that he should be given the opportunity to see out his role as head coach for the remainder of this season," the letter states.
Under Schaw's regime, three players had made their debuts as Stags.
"He continually fills us as players with confidence and wants nothing more than us reaching whatever success we have set our sights on," it says.
In another letter to HB Today, CHB Cricket Club chairman Dennis Schaw said the club was compelled to comment on the "untimely incident" because of a lack of support from "other quarters".
Dennis Schaw, of Waipukurau, the elder brother of the coach, said his sacking was a "kick in the guts" for someone who had done so much not just for the code in CHB but the wider Bay cricket fraternity for many seasons.
The letter, which also bears the name of club captain Hamish Lewis, said had it not been for Colin and Jenny there would not have been a premier club team in CHB let alone a club.
"Colin has also been a voluntary groundsman at the Onga Onga Domain preparing club and HB representative wickets to a high standard," he wrote.
"This sacking has left myself and [silent] supporters dumbfounded," wrote Dennis Schaw, labelling HB Cricket's sacking "very unprofessional".
He wished the team all the best for the cup campaign despite the "untimely disruption".