OPINION | CSA's clean slate: Bigger worries than Nkwe appointment

Lloyd Burnard
Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town - When the Proteas were falling apart at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England, the general feeling from back home was that South African cricket needed immediate and drastic change. 

That change has now come, obliterating the structures that have long served the game in this proud cricketing nation. 

Ottis Gibson is gone, the head coach role is no longer, there is a director of cricket, there is a new team director position and, most importantly, the CEO - with the help of the director of cricket - now calls the shots on key cricketing matters without having to consult the board first. 

Gibson's entire coaching staff left with him, convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has served his time and one of the key men in the recent history of Proteas management, Dr Mohammed Moosajee, is also gone. 

If you speak to any players or management who have been involved in the Proteas set-up in recent years, they will tell you how valuable Moosajee was as a voice of reason and a composed, wise head in the Proteas dressing room. 

Moosajee served as Proteas team doctor for 16 years and as a combined team manager and doctor for the last 12 years. 

His level of professionalism and his willingness to always put the team first were hallmarks of his contribution, and his absence will be as important as anyone's moving forward. 

Now, Enoch Nkwe has been named acting team director for the upcoming tour of India. He will take on the responsibilities of the outgoing head coach as well as some of the responsibilities of the outgoing team manager. 

It is, without doubt, a monumental task for a man who has no experience in international cricket coaching and just one season's worth of experience at franchise level. 

Nkwe may have bagged three trophies in his first year as Lions coach - one was with the Jozi Stars in the Mzansi Super League - but the uncertainty surrounding his elevation to the national side is completely understandable. 

He takes charge at a time when the Proteas are battered, bruised and without some of their most familiar names following the retirements of Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, JP Duminy and Imran Tahir (ODIs).

Nkwe comes highly-rated and those in the know will tell you that he has all the makings of an international coach, but expecting miracles right away would be naive. 

While facing the No 1 ranked side in Test cricket in their own conditions is as tough as it gets, the silver lining for Nkwe is that there are no expectations whatsoever, and any successes will be celebrated as progress. 

Regardless of what happens in the three T20Is and three Tests in India, it is difficult to see Moroe and acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl going with anyone else for England's visit at the end of the year. 

Unless they are gifted an overseas option that is too good to turn away, CSA will back Nkwe for England and that will be his first real test. 

Losing away to India, especially given what happened there in 2015, is understandable. Losing at home to England, however, will never be acceptable and Nkwe will have between now and then to ensure that doesn't happen. 

The truth of the matter, though, is that Nkwe's appointment is the least of the worries.

CSA's proposed domestic restructure for 2021 that will see the professional landscape expand from 6 teams to 12 is going ahead. 

The main concern is that the overall quality of domestic cricket, already under the spotlight, will be significantly diluted. 

Then, there are concerns that existing professionals will have their provincial salaries reduced to accommodate the intake of the semi-professionals into the professional system. 

South Africa, at this crucial stage of rebirth, desperately needs to keep its best players in the country, and the fear is that the new system will encourage players to leave for greener pastures elsewhere. 

The importance of the domestic restructure cannot be overstated. It is a massive project that directly impacts the money flowing into cricket through existing sponsors and investors. 

2021 is a big year for CSA, with the current six-year broadcast cycle with SuperSport coming to an end then. 

CSA must align their deal with SuperSport with the new-look franchise system, and how the broadcaster responds to the new model will be key to its success. 

It is a decision that Moroe and CSA must be absolutely 100% certain about, because if it doesn't work, then the results could be catastrophic. 

The role that the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) is playing in the entire process is an important one. They are making their voices heard and questioning Moroe and CSA on every decision, particularly when it comes to the restructure. 

Getting the relationship between CSA and SACA back to full health is another 'must' for Moroe. He may not need SACA approval to carry out key decisions, but the fact is that SACA enjoys the support of most professional players in the country.

To take on SACA is to take on the very players that CSA need to achieve success, and Moroe needs to approach with caution. 

The success of the MSL, now in its second year, is also paramount in CSA recovering its predicted loss of R654 million over the next few years. 

The MSL is Moroe's baby after the CSA board squashed former CEO Haroon Lorgat's proposed Global T20 League at the final hour back in 2017. 

With the cash-strapped SABC confirmed as the broadcaster once again, the MSL is facing another uphill task if it is to turn over any profit. 

Stadiums need to be full, quality overseas internationals need to be secured and there needs to be buy-in from the South African and international audiences when it comes to both viewership and investment. All of these are challenges that fall directly at Moroe's feet.

With the new structure at CSA, Moroe has become the most powerful man in South African cricket, and the sport desperately needs him to succeed.

He must be given that opportunity and all the support he needs.

We called for drastic change, and now we have it, even if it comes accompanied by an uncertain future.

Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24. 

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