Domestic / 29 November 2019, 11:00am / Stuart Hess
Pite van Biljon has almost seen it all in his 16 years as a professional cricketer and when asked yesterday to draw comparisons between the current interim head coach of the Proteas, Enoch Nkwe and the current head coach of the Tshwane Spartans, Mark Boucher, he made some intriguing observations.
Boucher’s name had been mentioned as a possible head coach for the men’s national team, but he has said on a number of occasions that he isn’t interested in filling that position.
Nkwe, meanwhile, has been thrust into the spotlight as the interim Team Director of the Proteas.
Van Biljon has worked with both men, Nkwe last year as part of the victorious Jozi Stars outfit in the Mzansi Super League and this year under Boucher as part of the Tshwane Spartans.
“Enoch had a lot of assistant coaches; a batting coach, two bowling coaches, fielding coach and a trainer,” said Van Biljon.
“He very much sat at the top of the structure, looked at it overall and made sure everyone was in the right place to take care of the drills.”
Boucher, explained Van Biljon, operated differently.
“Boucher is much more hands on, builds relationships with the players, and talks about individual game plans.
“With the Stars your relationship was very much with the batting coach, and then I’d assume for the bowlers it was with the bowling coach, and Enoch oversaw everything. Boucher is a bit more hands on.”
It’s an interesting dynamic and probably explains why Cricket South Africa felt Nkwe might be better suited to their new structure which was announced after the World Cup earlier this year.
It was loosely explained by Cricket SA chief executive Thabang Moroe that the Team Director would be in the mould of a football manager, like Pep Guardiola is at Manchester City.
And in that sense, the fact that Nkwe worked in that kind of structure at the Stars, it was understandable, even given his lack of experience as a head coach that he would take on that role with the Proteas.
But the national side badly needed experience on that coaching staff, given how many senior players had retired in the previous 18 months.
For now, Nkwe is still in the role in an interim capacity, he has no panel of selectors who will help him pick the South African squad for the England series that starts on Boxing Day, and will rely on an unidentified “technical team” to provide assistance in that regard. At some point he will also have to appoint some assistant coaches too.
Meanwhile, Boucher and Van Biljon will be giving their full attention to the MSL, which has reached a critical stage as the play-offs loom. The Spartans face the table topping Paarl Rocks at SuperSport Park this evening, pitting Proteas captain Faf du Plessis against his best mate AB de Villiers.
“They have a very strong top four. All of them are senior players. In the matches they’ve won they’ve always had guys make a big score,” said Van Biljon.
“And there are guys down the order who can produce cameos which means they will always put really competitive scores on the board or be in it with a shout if they are chasing.”
Their bowling, said Van Biljon, also covers many different areas.