Graeme Smith: Enoch Nkwe’s fine about the demotion

Graeme Smith. Picture: Leon Sadiki
Graeme Smith. Picture: Leon Sadiki

CSA director says Enoch Nkwe has much to gain in his current role as assistant coach.

The newly appointed director of cricket at Cricket SA (CSA), former Proteas captain Graeme Smith, began his tenure by hiring old team-mate Mark Boucher as head coach and installing interim coach Enoch Nkwe as his assistant.

Smith spoke to City Press about what he hoped to achieve in his three-month stint in charge.

Do you feel that a three-month contract is sufficient to do what you need to do?

There’s a helluva lot of stuff to get done. I need to work with the current South African cricket leadership to see where we end up because that’s the most important thing: where we end up. We need to find a way that we can all progress going forward. I guess the main focus now is getting stuck in and sorting some of the stuff out.

What’s your to-do list during that time?

(Laughs) My job description is quite extensive, but I think that in the short term it’s to get a national team that’s performing well again. We need to understand the challenges. There are a lot of systems that I think have been lacking in leadership and direction.

Having made these appointments, we need to give the national team as much support as possible and then dig into the systems in terms of what the frustrations are. Then a particular area I want to look at in South African cricket is coaching. I want to write down the pipeline of high performance in domestic coaching.

What happens when you leave: Will you help to find a replacement director of cricket?

It’s not that I want to get out. I need to work with CSA and see what decisions are made from a leadership perspective. Hopefully, the three months will be hugely successful and we can get some systems in place. There are no discussions about me walking away or not being part of it. I just want to be a part of trying to turn South African cricket around over the next few months.

What makes you the right person for this post?

Hopefully, it’s my cricket background in leadership and also, [my experience in] dealing with a lot of structures when I was captaining the national team. I feel that, from a leadership perspective, we can make decisions, we can move, we can get things in place.

I’m certainly not an administrator. I want to get involved in making the best cricketing decisions to get us back to excellence. My sense is there’s a real lack of leadership at the moment and we need to turn it around. A lot of what I’m saying is a bit blind because I need to get in and spend time with people.

Given the short-term nature of your appointment, isn’t it a bit tricky to have you making permanent appointments, especially if you get replaced by someone who has different ideas to you?

My goal is to help find a way forward. The challenges in our game at the moment are well documented. What the Proteas need now is good, strong leadership and international experience. I have appointed the best people, I think, and we’re hoping to appoint some consultants next week. If someone else comes into the role and feels differently, they are entitled to do that, but I’m not thinking about what happens next after my three months at CSA.

What should you be judged on over the three months you’ll be in charge at CSA, and can you be judged on anything?

The job is quite extensive. In this role you are constantly being judged, and there’ll be a lot of things people will talk about. I need to look at the systems across the board and there’s a lot of information I need to gather. My goal is to make South African cricket as strong as possible from the ground up. It’s difficult to say what I’ll be judged on. I’m guessing that it will probably on the Proteas’ results, but the work behind the scenes is going to be just as important.

Regarding the appointments of Boucher as head coach and Nkwe as his assistant: Does that mean you’ve moved away from the team director talk?

You can complicate life sometimes, and I think we’ve done that here. A coach and an assistant coach have been in the game for many years, so I thought: ‘Let’s keep it simple and go back to what fundamentally worked in the past.’ I want to try to cut the crap out of it, keep it simple and let people be accountable for their jobs.

What is this pathway you have in mind for developing Nkwe into an international coach?

Enoch and I had a good chat, and he and Mark had an honest chat. I think they’ll work well together because they both have qualities that will benefit each other and South African cricket.

I just feel at this time that Enoch’s pathway to being a strong international coach is the international experience path, which he’s going to gain a lot from now (as an assistant) until he gets the opportunity. We’re both on the same page; I think he also feels that this is the right path for him.

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