JOHANNESBURG – Enoch Nkwe will apply for the position of Proteas team director on a permanent basis, and hopes the national team’s tour to India will provide a boost to his chances of getting the job.
Nkwe, 36, will have the inside track for the newly formulated role after being made interim team director for that tour.
He acknowledged it would be a “very tough” assignment, but also believed the talent contained in both the T20 and Test squads was capable of giving the sport in this country a much needed lift following the failed World Cup campaign.
“It’s like when Jake White took over a Springbok team (in 2004) that was in the doldrums. He was also still quite young,” said Nkwe.
“I’m not sure how successful we will be in a short period of time. I believe we can make a quick turnaround – we have the players to do that.
“But we also have to identify the areas that prevented the team from not playing to its full potential.”
Nkwe’s appointment is only for the tour to India, and in the newly comprised team director role – which combines head-coaching duties with some elements that fell under the previous team manager’s watch – it’s as much a learning experience for him as it is for Cricket South Africa, who have created this new structure around the Proteas.
The acting director of cricket, Corrie van Zyl will accompany the team to India, fulfilling both his oversight role as the interim cricket director, as well as that of interim selection convener.
Nkwe and the respective captains, Faf du Plessis in the Tests and Quinton de Kock in the T20s, will round up the interim selection panel.
Nkwe also confirmed on Thursday that he would be solely responsible for the appointments of his assistants, which will number three to cover batting, bowling and fielding, and that he hoped to announce them on Monday.
Van Zyl said a couple of people had been approached to act as assistants (on a temporary basis as well), but had turned down the jobs.
“We need to make sure he is equipped with a support staff that assists him; people who’ve been to India before, and understand what it takes to perform in those conditions,” said Van Zyl.
South Africa will play three T20 Internationals and three Tests in India, the latter series the Proteas’ first assignment in the new World Test Championship.
“As CSA, we are very aware that this is an interim position,” Van Zyl said of Nkwe’s role.
“You can’t be judged on one tour only, that would be very unfair.
“There is a process that needs to be followed to appoint the team director permanently, but one performance, ultimately, can’t influence the appointment of a full-time team director.”
Nkwe, who returned to South Africa last year after a stint coaching in The Netherlands to take over as head coach of the Highveld Lions, sees the Indian tour as the ideal shop window in which to show his credentials.
“I didn’t expect it to come so soon. I couldn’t say no to the opportunity, not when the country comes calling,” he said.
“I will always see this as an opportunity to grow. If I can lay a strong base for the future of Cricket SA, that would mean a lot to me as well.
“I will definitely throw my name in the hat to take this position on a permanent basis. I’ll have to apply, but hopefully I get the opportunity to lead the country on a permanent basis.”
Nkwe does not feel that having just one season’s worth of experience as a franchise coach, nor the fact that he’s less than a year older than Test captain Faf du Plessis, will hinder his ability to communicate with the players.
“To manage Chris Gayle is a massive task – if you do it well, you get the best out of him,” Nkwe said of the soon-to-be 40-year-old West Indies opener, who was part of the Jozi Stars team he coached last season.
“I’ve worked with Quinton de Kock, Kagiso Rabada and Dean Elgar at SA Under-19 level and with the SA A side – those players understand my thinking and how I work.”