JOHANNESBURG – Cricket South Africa (CSA) and especially the Proteas will enter a whole new era where a framework that combines the world of the NFL and European club football will form a combined leadership structure through which the national team must find success.
Whether it be a General Manager at an NFL team - who oversees the hiring of coaches and signs players to contracts and is answerable to a CEO - or a football manager like Pep Guardiola, who answers to a Director of Football - in Guardiola’s case Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City - these changes CSA is seeking to implement are considerable and will require honesty and patience.
In the short term it will also require stability of some sort, which is why it would be sensible to keep Faf du Plessis as captain especially for the tour to India next month and the incoming tour by England in the summer.
Both new positions which Cricket SA announced on Sunday; Director of Cricket and the newly formulated Team Manager, demand individuals with a vast and in-depth knowledge of the game and in the case of the Director, a wide-ranging understanding of strategic trends in modern sports and the continuing evolution of those trends.
The most practical aspect of the Director of Cricket position will be the drawing up of a strategy for the 2023 World Cup, much like Andrew Strauss did when he took over a similar position with English cricket following that national team’s epic failure in 2015.
Strauss had foresight and was given the leeway and resources to make it work for England. Resources, financial ones especially, are in short supply in Cricket South Africa which is undertaking belt-tightening exercises that seeks to alleviate the stress brought about the forecast debt of R654-million.
The new Team Manager is very much in line with the club football structure; Guardiola has a set of assistants that help him, which is what CSA want the new Manager to do, and it would appear that person will be ultimately responsible for the team’s performances.
Which would seem to remove a lot of responsibility from the captain, a break with cricket history where the captain has always the primary driver of culture and on-field strategy.
Now there’s also less blame for the players and more for the Team Manager, the Director of Cricket and ultimately Cricket SA’s CEO, Thabang Moroe, to whom all will be answerable.
For that is where the buck will ultimately stop.
Moroe is juggling quite a lot issues; the forecast debt, the Mzansi Super League, restructuring of domestic cricket, a possible court case with the players union and the negotiation of a broadcast deal, which has to be in place next year.
Honesty, integrity and patience are needed.@shockerhess