Interim Proteas coach Enoch Nkwe is up for the tour to India. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - While viewers and even players grow accustomed to the new structure surrounding the Proteas men’s team, it is also worth remembering that the personnel filling some key positions, are only doing so temporarily.

Corrie van Zyl, Cricket SA’s acting Director of Cricket, illustrated as much on Wednesday when asked to provide clarity over who will pick the starting teams for all the matches on the Proteas’ up-coming tour to India. Van Zyl took a deep breath before saying: “Ok, I’m also the interim convener of selection, so I’m acting and interim. Then we have the interim Team Director as an interim selector. And then we also have the captain, who is not interim as a selector.”

The interim Team Director, Enoch Nkwe, who will appoint an interim support staff to assist him for that tour, is optimistic. “I strongly believe that every challenge is an opportunity, to thrive personally and as a team. As management we need to create the right environment as quickly as possible to ensure the players can thrive,” he said.

Nkwe, 36, was a surprising choice as acting Team Director, a new role formulated by Cricket SA in the wake of the disastrous World Cup campaign, the aftermath of which including the axing of Ottis Gibson as head coach.

His playing career, which included 42 first class matches and 38 limited overs games at provincial and franchise level, was cut short by injury.

Nkwe’s coaching credentials include stints as Gauteng Strikers coach, work with the SA Under-19 team, the SA Women’s side and the SA A team, before a short stint with the Netherlands men’s team. He returned to the country last year and in his first season as the Highveld Lions head coach he helped lead them to the Four-Day Series and T20 Challenge titles. In addition, Nkwe was also head coach of the Jozi Stars, who claimed the inaugural Mzansi Super League crown.

“I’m someone who is open to new learnings and experiences ...the last year has been massive and meaningful in my coaching career.”

India, would have been a tough assignment regardless of the South African team’s form, which this year has not been good. The World Cup meltdown was preceded by a home Test series loss against Sri Lanka.

“We understand some members of the team will have been affected by the World Cup campaign, but they’ve had a few weeks to sort out what they needed to,” said Nkwe.

“We are confident enough they will be in a better space and we will give them as much support as possible to ensure that on a mental and emotional side the entire squad is ready for the challenge that is coming up.”

Although his focus is firmly on preparing the team for India, Nkwe also recognised that the tour provides the ideal shop window to display his coaching wares.

“I’ll have to apply, but I will definitely throw my name in the hat, to take this position on a permanent basis.”

Nkwe stated he would be solely responsible for the appointment of his three assistants for the Indian tour, although Van Zyl - wearing his hat as acting Director of Cricket - said those appointments would have to be equipped with knowledge of playing conditions in India.

Nkwe hopes to reveal those assistants next Monday.

Van Zyl also said the position of convener of selectors had been advertised this week.


The Star