‘Nkwe the right man for Proteas’ visit to India’

Cricket SA’s interim team director Enoch Nkwe and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl.                                                Picture: Christiaan Kotze / Gallo Images
Cricket SA’s interim team director Enoch Nkwe and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl. Picture: Christiaan Kotze / Gallo Images

Acting Cricket SA director Corrie van Zyl tells Simnikiwe Xabanisa about his decision to appoint Enoch Nkwe to the newly created role of Proteas interim team director as tour of India looms.

Why Enoch Nkwe?

We believe he has the characteristics to bring out the best in the team. Yes, he has inexperience at franchise level, but if you look at his history, he’s got a lot of experience and success from his coaching roles. Just listening to him, I know that Cricket SA (CSA) has made the right decision.

What do you make of the negative press around the appointment?

To be brutally honest, I’m not looking at the comments and press too much, whether it’s good or bad, because if I want to live with the good I must also live with the bad.

We understand that some people are going to like the decision and some people won’t. As long as I’m comfortable that CSA is comfortable that we made the decision for the right reasons, I’m fine with it.

At the end of the day I’m going to be held accountable and, if I’m comfortable with the reasons and I have good reasons, I’m happy. If people are uncomfortable or negative about it, that’s their prerogative.

As a former player and coach, you’re aware of the second-season syndrome. Are you worried about Nkwe suffering that at international level after a debut season as a franchise coach?

I see it as his first season at international level, so let’s hope he follows that trend. Again, to me, those are perceptions. I was in coaching and I never had second-season syndrome; it’s really about attitude.

Given the mitigating circumstances – the Proteas lost the last test series in India 3-0 and they’ve now lost two of their greatest players in Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla – does Nkwe have leeway when it comes to results?

I don’t think Enoch would want to be given leeway. Enoch is a proud person and coach, and if we were to offer him leeway, that would be a slap in his face.

I think he’s expecting himself to be successful and that’s what I like about him, he’s looking forward to the challenge.

When Malibongwe Maketa was appointed as Proteas assistant coach, there was a feeling that he was in pole position to succeed Ottis Gibson. That didn’t happen, so what is the feeling now?

I don’t think any assistant coach has an automatic ticket into the head coaching position. I was an assistant coach for a long time and, as an assistant coach, you gain a lot of experience. But sometimes you need to then go on to be a head coach, or be ‘seen’ again.

In my opinion, Mali is not a forgotten coach. I’ve worked with him for a very long time and he’s a very good coach. We can’t just lose a coach of his quality.

Steyn has retired from tests, but not white ball cricket. However, he hasn’t been picked for the T20 team for India. What’s the thinking there?

Our medical committee chairperson hasn’t cleared him as ready from a medical perspective. I also communicated that yesterday to Dale. That’s the long and short of it. He’s still in our plans and could be very influential in white ball cricket.

That’s why he made the decision to retire from tests, and that’s why CSA has stuck by him – he might no longer be a red ball cricketer, but he still has a national contract. We believe he can still make a huge impact for us.

Read: Nkwe has a tough task resurrecting crest-fallen Proteas

What’s the process of getting a full-time Proteas team director? Are you looking to do it before the England tour or will Enoch continue until then because you said giving him one chance wouldn’t be fair on him?

I didn’t say that. I said we can’t just judge him on the India tour. If he were to apply in the process and we said he didn’t do well in India, that would be unfair.

We are working on the job profile of the team director position so we can advertise in the next couple of weeks so that process can unfold hopefully before the England series.

Personally, are you keen to take on this director of cricket role full time?

Cricket is in my blood and we’re also working on the profile of that role. Time will tell, but cricket is in my blood and I probably would be interested in applying for that role.

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July 2020

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