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Every city in the world has its famous sons and its loved sons and its bastard sons. Paul Adams is a loved son of Cape Town and that is why the Cape Cobras should appoint “Gogi” as their next coach.
There will be some howls of protest. Such as: what has Paul Adams done to deserve the job? Or: He hasn’t served his time in the coaching system and needs more time to learn his trade.
And those are sound arguments. On coaching grounds alone, Salieg Nackerdien and Barney Mohamed have the richer credentials and will clearly be sitting in the plush seats of the interview room. But for me, the bigger picture means Paul Adams is the right choice to succeed Richard Pybus.
That “bigger picture” is sometimes hard to define, especially when it comes to the complex decisions South Africans of all ranks have to make in every area of their daily lives, not just sport.
A couple of years ago, the bigger picture demanded that Peter de Villiers be named the first black Springbok coach ahead of Heyneke Meyer, even though Meyer had by far the more impressive rugby pedigree. In the end, De Villiers had a very mixed four-year spell. The sad thing is that his jokes just weren’t funny any more and it was a bit of a relief for a lot of rugby people to see Peter de Villiers go. And it need not have been so. Yet, because of the bigger picture, the SA rugby bosses made the right call. When it comes to the Cobras coach, the bigger picture is once again all about “doing the right thing,” as intangible as that may be.
Unlike the Bok job, all three leading candidates are men of colour (I think white is a colour too but never mind). So this time “doing the right thing” is about star power.
No disrepect to Nackerdien and Mohamed, but they cannot compete with Adams when it comes to star power. Giving Adams the job will reverberate around the streets and cafes and cricket grounds of the Cape. Because he is such a popular figure, Adams will broaden the fan base of the Cobras and add huge voltage to their star power. Creating a buzz is a big part of sport, and Paul Adams will have cricket fans buzzing and pull families to Newlands.
Is he technically up to the job? Will the players listen to him and respect him? Again, those are valid questions. But for all the tea in China, you tell me what can anyone teach Paul Adams about spin bowling? I have also been impressed with his game strategy and general cricketing know-how (not to mention his sense of humour) on the TV analysis circuit. The frog in the blender has become quite a wise toad. And if he really needs a batting coach, then give the man a batman or two.
The appointment of Paul Adams goes way beyond regular coaching criteria. It’s about reaching out and sending a message to the fan base. With a loved son of Cape Town in charge, the Cape Cobras would be a gatsby and koeksister cricket team, not a gin and cucumber sandwich cricket team. And as a coach, don’t be too surprised if Paul Adams turns out to be giftig.
p Ian Smit is the sports editor of the Cape Times.
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