Graeme Smith has held extensive talks with Proteas captain Faf du Plessis over the composition of the Proteas’ coaching staff and the kind of preparation the team will need ahead of the four-match Test series with England.
There is major uncertainty over the make up of the coaching staff and it is likely Smith will recommend someone other than Enoch Nkwe, who was interim Team Director for the national team’s tour to India, to coach the team for the England series.
Smith signed a three-month contract with Cricket South Africa yesterday to become the Director of Cricket, a period that includes the four Tests, three ODIs and three T20 internationals against England and three ODIs and three T20s against Australia in February and March next year.
Thereafter Smith will head to India to take up a commentating gig in the IPL, a deal he signed after withdrawing from the process to be Director of Cricket last month, just days after he was interviewed for the post. Smith cited a long and frustrating process, and the fact that no one could provide clarity about the exact nature of the role as reasons for his withdrawal.
He reconsidered that stance after talks with CSA president Chris Nenzani, during which he also stated that he couldn’t work alongside the now suspended chief executive Thabang Moroe.
“I’ve publicly stated a number of times that I would love to assist CSA in this difficult time, particularly in developing this new role of Director of Cricket,” Smith said in a statement yesterday.
“I’m still as passionate about South African cricket as I ever was and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role. There is a lot of work to be done in the next few weeks and months, and my objective will always be to make a positive impact during my tenure.”
Also yesterday, CSA’s current interim chief executive Jacques Faul said the organisation still remained intent on taking a “long-term view” on Smith as its Director of Cricket. “We will see how it goes for now, but the idea is for him to sign for an extended period,” Faul said.
In the meanwhile the Proteas need to get their preparation up and running for the Tests against England. “Graeme obviously needs to come up with a team, and as a matter of courtesy, I will take those names to the Board,” said Faul.
“He has obviously been very busy putting those names together, but as part of a parallel process, while he was sorting out terms to be the Director, he was also talking regularly to Faf to get as much info as possible on what the players need ahead of that series. Obviously we are stressed for time.”
He said that he hoped to announce the coaching staff by next Tuesday for the latest provided all parties can agree to the terms of their various contracts.
Smith was also in the process of putting together an interim selection panel, that according to Faul would be responsible for picking the squad for the England series only.
How the team would prepare, would boil down to the coaches and most importantly Du Plessis. The Proteas captain is part of the Paarl Rocks team that will be involved in the final of the Mzansi Super League on Sunday. A round of Four-Day Franchise Series matches is scheduled to start next Thursday, but it is understood that the Proteas players may not necessarily participate in those despite many having had very little cricket in the last six weeks owing to having to play in a 20 tournament, in which many matches were washed out.
One idea is to have a training camp, which would allow the players and the new coaches to communicate directly allowing them to build bonds quicker.