With no end in sight to the current uncertainty surrounding South African cricket, Enoch Nkwe will continue in his role as team manager for the upcoming series against England. It is a difficult situation for Enoch because of all the uncertainty behind the scenes.
CSA is yet to appoint a Director of Cricket, they say they have a selection panel for the England series but refuse to name them and are currently locked in a legal battle with the players association to restructure the current franchise system.
Enoch has essentially been handed a poisoned chalice. How is he supposed to make long-term plans when at any moment the rug could be pulled from underneath him? I do not doubt Nkwe’s coaching ability but when there is instability from top to bottom in an organization it is difficult to see how he will get the results, he needs to get the job permanently.
There are other candidates for the team manager position and the names of Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher come to mind.
Prince has guided his franchise through a transition period of the last few years while managing to stay competitive in all competitions.
Boucher has had an amazing start to his coaching career and has been a stalwart in the Proteas set up over the years could be just the shot in the arm the team needs.
The one certainty amongst all the confusion that is South African cricket now is the figure of Faf du Plessis. The talismanic figure has led with distinction through what has been a tumultuous 18 months for SA cricket. Through it all, he has remained positive and focused but lately, the body language of the South African skipper seems worrying to me.
Spare a thought for Faf because through all the craziness over the last year or so he has come under a lot of criticism but looking at the current state of cricket in SA I have to applaud the skipper for not throwing in the towel.
Being captain means that he is somewhat privy to the goings-on behind the scenes and the disarray that the sport he loves is in now. Faf has also in the last 2 years lost all of his senior pros and now faces the prospect of helping South Africa through a building phase, while he enters his twilight years as a cricketer. Faf stability around him to make strides with his team on the field and I believe that if CSA can sort out the off-field issues, Faf and the team will start to perform to the level we know they can.
Director of Cricket:
A role that is central to most of the debate surrounding South African cricket now. Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith is the leading candidate thus far even though he made a statement saying that he had withdrawn from the role.
He has, however, said that discussions are ongoing which is positive. I think that both CSA and Graeme will have to make compromises but I believe that Graeme can be the man to get South Africa out of its current rut.
Smith is arguably South Africa’s best-ever captain and I believe has a long-term plan to create an environment to develop players groomed for the national side. While Smith lacks experience in the role, his experience of having played in the current system and the previous system bodes, well as I think he will look to find a happy medium between the two.
Smith has always been a tough, no-nonsense, hard cricketer and I believe these qualities will serve him well in the role of DoC. There are other candidates for the role but in my opinion, there is only one glaringly obvious choice and that is Graeme Smith.
I saved the team discussion for last, as I believe this will be the easiest fix. The current squad was largely outplayed in the recent series against India in India.
However, I do not believe this to be because of a lack of talent within the squad. Some players perhaps could use a confidence boost with some time away from the national spotlight.
Themba Bavuma, Keshav Maharaj, Theunis de Bruyn, Dane Piedt, and Heinrich Klaasen could all benefit from some time with their franchise teams, scoring runs and taking wickets.
I would freshen up the team for the next series with some young talent coming through the ranks such. The likes of Kyle Verrynne, Dane Paterson, George Linde, Sinathemba Qeshile, Lutho Sipamla, Gerald Coetzee and Raynard van Tonder are names that spring to mind. All are young and have done well in the recent past and for the most part, all of them are in the top runs scorers and wicket-takers at the domestic level.
That coupled with the world-class talents of Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock could work well together. My view is to blood youngsters now and give them time to find their feet at test level.
The current mess that is South African cricket can be fixed if we make the right appointments and have the patience to go through a very difficult period to come out on top in the end. As fans, we need to give the team all the support they need and back our boys. Yes, the current state of affairs is not great but pilling on the team will not help anyone. We need to get behind them so that they know they have the support they need.