Former South African captain and cricket legend Shaun Pollock. Photo: Fiona Goodall/AFP

SUN CITY - South Africa need to appoint their new director of cricket as soon as possible according to former Proteas captain Shaun Pollock. 

Cricket SA missed their self-imposed deadline of making an announcement on the matter as CEO Thabang More told SAFM Radio that his organisation would “make communication” on Friday. He said they would make an announcement even if it was to say they had not appointed anyone, as Moroe also indicated CSA may widen their search abroad to find a candidate.

Another former Proteas captain - Graeme Smith had applied for the position but later withdrew.

“The sooner you pick the director of cricket, the better,” said Pollock on Saturday at the Gary Player Invitational golf event at Sun City.

“The England series is just around the corner. The series at home are what define you as a team, and also define how your country supports you,” he said referring to the four-Test series against England starting in Centurion on December 26.

The 46-year-old Pollock who played 108 Tests for South Africa, taking 421 wickets at an average of 23 also squashed rumours he had applied for the coach of Proteas.

“No I didn’t apply. There was a rumour going around that the SA team asked me to be the coach - no that’s not the case.”

As for the application of Smith, Pollock hinted he was surprised by his former teammate.

“I must admit when Graeme said he was applying… I think you have to do it with the understanding of SA cricket and the sensitivity of some of the issues in SA cricket like diversity and the way things work. If you’re going to apply and expect things to change, that’s being a bit ambitious on certain aspects.”

South Africa come off one of the worst seasons in their history, losing five matches at the Cricket World Cup during the group stages and failing to make the semifinals. Switching to Test cricket, South Africa were thumped 3-0 against hosts India in October.

Pollock knew his own kind of crisis, as he took over the SA captaincy in 2000 after Hansie Cronje was banned for life for match-fixing. Pollock, though, said his team still had a number of experienced and top-performing players at his disposal.

“It was a different kind of crisis, people had lost faith in the team, but we still had all the same players. We still had the same talented individuals, we were always the fittest teams and the best fielding unit in the world. Sometimes you can get sidetracked by some of the issues off the field, but all that matters really in Test matches is the bat and the ball.”

With the Mzansi Super League currently in full swing and ending on December 16, there will be just 10 days for selectors to decide on the SA team for the first Test against England. There will be just a two-day Tour match in Benoni starting on December 17 against an SA invitiational side, a three-day Tour match also at the same venue against SA A, and one round of the domestic four-day series starting on December 19 for the SA players to find form in the longest format of the game. 

“When structures are in place, it runs like a well-oiled unit. But as I say, you can’t pick a Test match team by watching the guys play T20 cricket - it’s pointless. I could probably pick you the seven automatic selections, but there are maybe four spots up for grabs.”

The Proteas have also been struggling with a number of retirements, and Pollock said a simple approach would serve the team best.

“From a team perspective, you’ve got three big players that have retired - AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn. So the rebuilding process is going to be difficult. You need the players to be helped to step up. Their skills need to improve to fill the void left by those guys.

“In the early part of your career, doing the basics well is key. In South Africa the conditions suit the bowlers so taking 20 wickets is not going to be an issue. They know the conditions to bat on, but they’re up against a really good England attack, with depth at their disposal.

“People like James Anderson are trying to get back in. There lies the challenge, it will be about making the runs. I think we have one four-day game before the series. That will be a massive game for the guys in the SA team - they have to find form in that match - you can’t find form in T20 cricket. That four-day series - I’ll be  very surprised if our top guys don’t play.”

African News Agency (ANA)