The great Proteas coaching debate

2011-02-15 00:00

Cape Town — The “race” for the South African cricket team coaching job, post-World Cup, may well be won by the candidate who doesn’t want it the least ... as opposed to who wants it the most.

If countrywide media speculation of late is reasonably accurate, the front-runners are Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher and Stephen Fleming.

And the peculiar thing is that all of the trio have also been reported or rumoured, admittedly at differing stages, fairly adamantly not to want the responsibility of 12-months-a-year type of employment at present.

Kirsten will be coming off his three successful years as India’s head coach, and several of the players whose confidence he impressively won have publicly lamented (but simultaneously understood) his specific wish, it seems, to spend more time with his Cape Town-based family after a desperately busy period in cricket’s biggest hotbed.

Fletcher has been out of the international loop since his England tenure and apparently content with a low-stress life in the Overberg region — as one might well be — and occasional commitments as a short-term consultant/guru to clubs, countries and even some individual players.

His candidacy — or otherwise — is especially shrouded in uncertainty, although Kirsten has at least had informal talks with Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola (if a national Sunday newspaper is on the button), and a late infusion, former New Zealand captain Fleming, has been listed as a key reason that CSA pushed out the deadline for applications to this Thursday.

Nominally, perhaps, the names of Proteas bowling coach Vincent Barnes and Cape Cobras mastermind Richard Pybus have also been associated with the job, although the former may well be handicapped by having been a “number two” in the national set-up for so long and the latter has had a chequered start results-wise to his career at Newlands.

And if Fleming has indeed stormed into the melting pot from left field, then he too has been sending out weird signals.

Not much more than a year ago, in squashing speculation he was after the Black Caps’ coaching role, he told Cricinfo with some conviction: “It’s not my interest to coach internationally. I am very happy with the business side of things I’m looking to set up, and with my family life.”

It is seemingly not just media speculation that is suggesting the coach will eventually come from a triumvirate of Kirsten, Fletcher or Fleming. Late last week Herschelle Gibbs, a long-time member of the national set-up until recently and presumably hardly lacking an ear to developments, toldCape Talk Eyewitness News : “I think the front-runners in my personal opinion would be Gary Kirsten ... I think Stephen Fleming would probably be a good bet too. I’m not sure if Duncan Fletcher has sent in his application. I’m still going to push for Gary ... he’s a good friend of mine anyway.” This plot only thickens ...

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