Faf du Plessis has called on Cricket South Africa (CSA) to finalise the team director and director of cricket positions as quickly as possible in order to allow the national team to put long-term plans in place.
South Africa currently have Enoch Nkwe serving as interim team director and Corrie van Zylas interim director of cricket. They picked the squad for the recent tour of India, which ended with a 0-3 Test-match whitewash.
“It is is a massive red flag,” du Plessis said upon his return from from leading the team in that series. “An interim coach, interim director – it needs to be resolved as soon as possible. We need to make decisions that influence the team positively, but also from a point of view that you have trust in people coming to work for more than just a month. [At the moment], the coach can’t hire someone for a month because, in two months’ time, someone might decide something completely different. The most important thing right now is clarity and someone needs to make decisions.”
Du Plessis’ request comes after CSA announced a massive restructure of the way the men’s team will function. Instead of the traditional head coach and assistant roles, South Africa will now have a team director, who reports to a director of cricket who will oversee all national cricket structures, and will have the freedom to choose his own support staff. A selection convenor will also be appointed.
Van Zyl, who has worked in CSA’s High Performance structures for several years, explained that the positions should be filled soon. “What is happening at the moment is that the director of cricket role has been advertised. Next Thursday, the applications close. The idea is to get that done as soon as possible With that, we also need to get the convener of selection done. The convener of selection was advertised a while ago. That decision will be made shortly by CSA. The two roles will be announced more or less the same time.”
While there has been little information about potential candidates for the various jobs on offer, van Zyl confirmed that he intends to apply for the director of cricket role in the coming days. “I haven’t put in my CV for director of cricket, but yes, I am going to.”
ESPNcricinfo understands that Linda Zondi, who was removed as convener of selectors after the 2019 World Cup, has applied to get his old job back.
Meanwhile, Nkwe, who has been promoted to the team director role after just one season as a franchise head coach, also indicated he is interested in taking on the role permanently. Asked if he thinks he is the right man for the job, Nkwe said, “I believe I am, especially, now that I have had this experience [India tour] and seen what areas need to be addressed. The last two months has helped me as a coach to grow to new levels. I strongly believe I am in the right position to do that.”
The results, especially the Test series which South Africa lost 0-3, do not seem to agree with Nkwe but CSA made it plain before the tour that they would not judge him on the outcomes of one tour. At the time, van Zyl said it would be “very unfair”. Instead, he suggested CSA would play the long game and appoint someone who could help the team succeed in both the ODI league which begins in 2020 and leads up to the 2023 World Cup, and the two T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021.
With “two ICC events in the subcontinent,” Nkwe understood how important it is for South Africa to find the right personnel, including management. Though he would like to be that person, he gave an assurance that if he isn’t, he will try to contribute in other ways. “I strongly believe I am the right person but that’s not my decision. If I end up not being the person, then I will go back into the [domestic] system, and help improve the system in a different way,” Nkwe said.
For now, despite what du Plessis described as a period of uncertainty and which van Zyl acknowledged could have created confusion over the structures, van Zyl and Nkwe are operating as though they are the people that will take South African cricket forward.
“The interim roles isn’t the best way we could have done it. But, given the situation after the World Cup, it’s the best we could have done,” van Zyl said. “We need to start planning for the England tour and we need to act as if we are in those positions. If it changes, it changes and we have got no control over that.”