Succession: Proteas’ new leadership will have to go back to building core values

2011-04-13 00:00

THE Proteas have returned from the sub-continent minus their retired ODI captain, the silverware and an obvious succession plan for a new national coach and ODI captain. After the woes of the World Cup there is a dire need for clear direction and a fresh start.

There are a number of candidates being considered for the Protea coaching position to be announced by Cricket South Africa in June. Gary Kirsten is by far the most popular choice, but it’s not clear whether he has made a formal application for the position. Other contenders are Duncan Fletcher, Richard Pybys, Vincent Barnes, Stephen Fleming and Tom Moody, to name a few.

As far as the captaincy goes there is no natural successor to Graeme Smith. If Cricket South Africa have a captaincy succession plan it is not immediately obvious. At one stage Johan Botha looked certain to be the man for the job. He had acquitted himself well when called on to captain while Smith was injured. Botha has great captaincy credentials, but his inability to make the side on a consistent basis almost certainly rules him out of contention.

Hashim Amla is probably the most natural choice, but he has made it very clear that he does not want the position.

Jaques Kallis has been a reluctant captain in the past, but with his impressive career drawing to a close it’s definitely time for some young blood at the helm.

AB de Villiers seems to be the only possibility, and despite his lack of captaining experience he’s a good candidate. He plays all forms of the game and is well respected by his team and is popular with the media and supporters alike.

In my opinion Smith’s “my way or the highway” style of leadership has not provided an ideal environment in which to groom a new leader. In contrast, Sri Lanka and New Zealand captains Sangakarra and Vettori have mentored players to take over.

At the tender of age of 30, Smith’s decision to stand down from the ODI captaincy to focus on his batting seems selfish. Had Smith played a role in bringing through an obvious replacement, his choice to stand down would have been more acceptable.

For the Proteas to move in the right direction, it would be preferable for Smith to relinquish the captaincy altogether and let South Africa’s new captain make his mark in all forms of the game.

Having a coach and captain who are constant should help to galvanise South Africa and get them back to winning ways.

“Team India” showed the world the importance of working well as a unit in their World Cup triumph. It’s time for the Proteas to embrace this unified approach and to get back to team basics where individuals pull together and put the success of the team before their own.

The new coach and Smith’s successor will have no more important job description than to instil these values in their new charges.

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