Cricket South Africa have not renewed coach Otis Gibson’s contract and have stated that they are restructuring the Protea set up. They will now put a team together to manage all things Proteas including appointments of captains, coaches, medical staff and administrative staff. An interim team, selection panel and captain will be put together for the up coming tour of India. CSA will advertise the positions of team manager, DoC and convener of selectors. Corrie van Zyl will be interim Director of Cricket.
As I predicted in an earlier piece, during the world cup CSA are going in a new direction and by the sounds of things we will likely see whole sale changes to the protea setup as a whole. So, here is my take on the current state of affairs.
CSA has to get this team together first before making any other long-term appointments as this team will be largely responsible for the set up as a whole this is the obvious place to start. CSA also should not ignore the interim team as well because if they do well there may be a thought to keeping them on board for the long term so it’s up to these so-called interim team members to stake a claim and throw their names in the hat. This team has to consist of both sides of the cricket coin, former players to provide insight as well as analysts to provide the data needed to make decisions. Only the top performers in their field should be considered to take this team forward with a fresh look and approach.
This is where the management team will have their first real test. Appointing a coach to take the Proteas forward. Titans CEO Jacques Faul seems to think we have a ready-made replacement in Mark Boucher. The former SA cricketer has taken to coaching like a duck to water, commanding respect by his team delivering on the field. Mark has won the domestic 50 over competition twice on the spin and also won the T20 competition twice in his short career as a coach. I have no doubt in my mind that Mark has the ability to take us to a new level as a coach, in his playing days he spent hours watching from behind the stumps, pondering the game as a whole and I can only imagine this will stand him in good stead for a possible stint as national team coach. Mark was also a man for a crisis, batting SA out of trouble, scoring hundreds with tail enders epitomizes his never give up, never say die attitude which is something the current crop of SA cricketers has been criticized for. I think he would bring an intensity back to the Proteas that has been sorely missed for a few years now, since Graeme Smith stepped down in my opinion the team has lost its edge.
Another name I would consider is another former Protea, Ashwell Prince. Prince has done exceptionally well in coaching a transitional Cape Cobras outfit. A team that when he took charge was boasting a number of seasoned veterans of the game that were coming to the end of their careers. Prince managed to navigate this tricky period by putting faith in the young guns of the Western Province set up with the likes of Jason Smith, Kyle Verreynne and David Bedingham among others, all coming through the ranks to make their debuts under Prince. Prince has proved he can be the man for a rebuild and its clear he will trust in the youth of SA cricket to carry us forward into a new era of Protea fire.
There may be other candidates that the new management team will consider but for me these two would be well suited for the job. I also believe bringing in a mentor to the group could be advantageous. Someone who has played at the highest level and won at the highest level. Perhaps someone like Jacques Kallis or Herschelle Gibbs or both in my mind. Who better to take advise from than two of the best batsmen the world has ever seen let alone South Africa? I think this will allow for a mindset shift in the Protea set up. A shift for positivity going forward. The chance for young and even experienced players to learn from two of the games great players is one that I don’t think any cricketer would turn down. I don’t know about the availability of the two in question but I think they would be perfect for the job.
One of the most important decisions coming up will be who will take SA cricket forward as its national captain. Now in this department it will be a tough decision, will we keep Faf? Well if we are starting anew, I would think that Faf will not be captain of the Proteas going forward, however I would want him to continue in the team and continue as test captain until he decides and grooms a successor in the longer format. It would also be beneficial for the new ODI and T20 captain or captains to work alongside Faf and lean on his considerable experience going forward. Candidates for captaincy should include Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Andile Phehelukwayo and Kagiso Rabada.
Markram speaks for himself. He has already been identified as a potential candidate by virtue of having captained the team in the absence of Faf and seems a vital cog in the future of South African cricket. He also seems to have the temperament and ability to handle the pressure of the captaincy.
Rassie while a new addition to the ODI set up has been probably our best most composed player over the last year or so. Using all his years of experience in domestic cricket he understands his game and I think would take on the role as captain with the same positivity and unerring confidence that he brings to the national team as a player.
Andile for me needs to have more responsibility in the ODI set up. He has proven to be one of the top wicket takers in the middle overs but its his under performance with the bat in my opinion that has let him down. I believe that a greater role with the bat and possibly the captaincy we might see the next great all rounder emerge from South African cricket. There is no doubt in my mind that he has the ability to both captain the side and be great on the field I think it’s all down to if he believes in himself 100 percent.
Rabada carries with him the title of the spear head of the South African bowling attack and while he is still very young, he has shown maturity beyond his years. He would be my sort of lead by example captain. He always gives his absolute everything on the field and can inspire his team by doing amazing things with the cricket ball in his hand.
Overall the incoming management team, coaches, captains, selectors and director of cricket have a massive task on their hands but one I do not think is impossible. If you look at how far England came in four years it has to inspire thoughts of, this can be done. CSA need to be bold and brave in their appointments and so do the management team so that on the field our cricket can be bold and brave as well. I don’t think the whole team needs to be scrapped but rather tinkered with for now to find a balance that works for us and take SA cricket into a new era of success.
The team’s success will ultimately come down to how we can manage the next 18 months as a national side. The integration of younger or inexperienced players will be vital. How we manage to replace the considerable talent we’ve lost in Dale Steyn in the longer format of the game and also JP Duminy and Hashim Amla who have packed up international cricket altogether. These have been vital members of our set up for many years and it will be huge task to replace the runs and wickets these men have contributed over the years. We thank them for their service and I hope they will be available in future in some capacity for the Proteas.