EXCLUSIVE: Ex-Lions and Titans head coach Dave Nosworthy chats to Sport24

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 Dave Nosworthy. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Dave Nosworthy. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Former Titans and Lions coach Dave Nosworthy talks about South Africa’s “unexpected” series win over India and what impact Quinton de Kock’s exit had within the Test arena.
  • The ex-Canterbury and Somerset coach looks ahead to the Proteas’ tour of New Zealand and shares the best piece of advice former Kiwi cricketer Chris Cairns gave him on arrival.
  • The current Director of Cricket at St David’s Marist and the man behind the Cricket Mentor concept also offers his views on the charges against Mark Boucher and the under-fire CSA.

Sport24 asked: Your take on South Africa’s success against India?

Dave Nosworthy: I wouldn’t say that they have got every selection right, but in the last series you can’t really go too much against what’s been achieved. It’s unbelievable. I don’t think there were many people putting too much money on the South African side and it was unexpected to be honest that the Proteas would win both the Test and ODI series. I thought India playing in our conditions might balance the books for us, but in the build-up there were plenty of issues going on. When it came to our top order in Test matches, our batsmen hadn’t been consistently scoring runs and big hundreds. However, the tipping point came during the series and the players produced the goods. They have come through and there has been character and performance. It’s vital now that the players are allowed to grow, so that in two years’ time we’ve got new stars. I think that will happen. Young Keegan Petersen is so exciting and I hope that he gets a real opportunity. My wish is that Rassie van der Dussen also becomes more consistent and starts scoring big, as does Temba Bavuma. The signs are there and now it’s all about the selectors affording the players continuity. In this series they made some good selections, but in the past the side has probably been at least a batsman light.

Sport24 asked: Your view on the charges against Mark Boucher?

Dave Nosworthy: CSA have laid the charges against Boucher and it will be instructive to see what the agenda is around it. I wasn’t in the change room at the time, but we know that racism and anything around that is unacceptable and I don’t live with that. Whatever needs to be done needs to be done, but I wouldn’t like to speculate on where the situation sits as it would be very dangerous. It’s just way too sensitive and there are things happening which I don’t think anyone even knows about… I watched clips here and there from the SJN Hearings when it came to people I know. I think it’s not a bad thing we went through that process as people were afforded the opportunity to say what they wanted to say. There will be angst and division around the country, as there currently is in the cricket community, because of it. It’s about how we heal and I’ll be very interested to see how CSA handles this now. In the world of cricket, Bouch is generally well-liked and the players respect him. There are also players who he has had a go at on the field as a wicket-keeper that most probably loathe him. The fact Bouch didn’t get as many results early on in his coaching career with the Proteas, as he did with the Titans, saw people jumping on it pretty quickly for whatever reason.

Sport24 asked: Are you also critical of the bumbling board at CSA?

Dave Nosworthy: The perception may be that the players are winning in spite of the administrators, but I generally don’t criticize them because they’ve got to get a job done. Ultimately, there are tough calls that have to be made. To be honest, I haven’t heard too many players who are grumpy with the board and I think it’s the public and media who have blown a lot of this up… One of the biggest things I have done well as a coach over the course of my career is that I have always managed to sit on boards at every union. Being part of those discussions allowed me to engage with all the administrators and board members in terms of what we were doing as a team. Very often coaches are excluded from those meetings. I would hope that Graeme Smith would offer his side of things in the boardroom. And, if I was an administrator, I would want Boucher in there every now and again as well. I would say, “Tell us your plan” because there is so much broken telephone these days. With different agendas at play, sometimes it so good to hear from the director of cricket or the head coach because it’s easier for the administrators to understand certain aspects. While it’s a new board that is trying to put structures in place, the way CSA handled Enoch Nkwe and the timing of some of their decisions wasn’t as good as I think it could have been. However, whether the timing is right or not, ultimately the same decision comes out. Even before the Boucher saga, I believe Nkwe wasn’t handled very well by CSA. At the time when he was sent to India as interim head coach, I was quoted as saying that I thought he was the wrong guy going. It was not that he couldn’t do it, but sending someone to India on their first assignment was naive. It was really tough for him and it was almost sending him as a scapegoat to fall on his sword. CSA could quite easily have rather sent one of the high performance coaches for those six weeks. Enoch came back under a spotlight with a team who had had a shocker. The players had most probably lost respect and didn’t trust him. From a coach-management point of view and to grow his career, I would have held him back a bit longer.

Sport24 asked: Did you have ambitions of coaching the Proteas?

Dave Nosworthy: Yes. I would have loved to have done that, but I’m also a believer that things happen for a reason. I am not one to chase jobs and I believe in things happening for the right reasons. I believe if an organisation wants you, they will fetch you. I was fortunate enough to have coached the SA under-19 side which included the likes of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Vernon Philander. It was one of the best moments in my life. I also coached the SA ‘A’ side and the New Zealand ‘A’ side and was always there and there about. In terms of the India head coaching job which became available in 2007, it was massive speculation. At the time I was asked by a journalist if I had international aspirations. I replied, “Of course” and that “every coach wants to try to get to the top and work with the best which is a privilege.” A week later, I was linked with the position across various media platforms. But nothing ever happened. I was never flown to India and hadn’t applied.

Sport24 asked: Your take on Quinton de Kock calling time on Tests?

Dave Nosworthy: Quinny deciding to step away from Tests was sad to see because in my eyes it was quite early. Publically, he’s made it clear that the decision was very much family orientated. While that may have been a contributing factor, in my own headspace I wonder if the amount of cricket he has played and the responsibility on his shoulders were also significant drivers in the decision. Quinny took on a lot of pressure in the batting order, had to be the mainstay and I think that most probably took its toll. He also took over the captaincy at one stage and though he loved the opportunity, I’m not sure it was good for his game. He puts his hand up in the interim and I take my hat off to him for doing that... I first met Quinny when he was at KES and I was coaching the Lions. His dad used to come to me and say, “Dave, he’s ready to play and leave school.” I encouraged him to finish school, which he did and then he came across and immediately inked a contract with the Lions. Quinny is a free spirit and I knew it already from the South African under-19 squad under Ray Jennings. The two of them clashed at times particularly over his fitness. I always spoke to Quinny so that he listened and learned from that system. With him I practiced constant care and friendship, while at the same time drawing the line when I needed to and he respected that. But when as a coach you just come out of nowhere and have a full go at Quinny, he doesn’t accept that. It comes down to man-management and doing things differently. He’s a brilliant player with unbelievable stats. I would have liked to have seen more from him in Test matches, but maybe I’m being unfair?

Sport24 asked: How do you see SA’s tour to New Zealand shaping up?

Dave Nosworthy: As a Test team, South Africa should be leaving our shores full of confidence after the India series. The big name that has come into the squad for me is Simon Harmer. I’m glad for him because I think he’s a quality cricketer. Our Test squad is shaping up nicely, but New Zealand is a very interesting place to tour. The big trick against the Kiwis, who take no prisoners, is the conditions. One of the first things Chris Cairns said to me when I got there was, “Coach, never look down at the wicket, look up.” It was in reference to the weather which changes continually. You literally experience every season within an hour. The weather alters the conditions of the pitch and if you’re not up to speed with that environment, you can get caught out. Many of the current Proteas haven’t toured New Zealand before and it’s really tough to win there. As much as I want to say SA are favourites, on home turf and with a full side, I would give the Black Caps the edge. But if the Proteas gain an understanding of the conditions and the intricacies of the country, there is no reason they can’t compete and pip them at the post, especially off the back of what they have just achieved.

Previous interviews:

Swys de Bruin

Brett Schultz

Percy Montgomery

Alan Solomons

Josh Strauss

Mouritz Botha

David Denton

Warren Brosnihan

Dale Benkenstein

Stephen Mokoka

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