April 11, 2011

Will it be Kirsten and de Villiers?

Who will be the new men appointed to helm South Africa's seemingly never-ending quest for ICC silverware?
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The process of looking for a coach and captain to take South Africa forward has started in earnest in South Africa.

The relationship between the captain and coach is of the utmost importance. Over the past eight years this particular relationship was sometimes hostile, at times uncomfortable, and occasionally pretty good between Graeme Smith and the coaches he worked with. It is not necessary for the captain and coach to be friends but there has to be a mutual respect and understanding between the two that leads to a positive influence on the team. Cricket South Africa will no doubt consider this when they proceed to find two individuals to fill these important positions.

As far as the coach is concerned, public opinion is strongly in favour of Gary Kirsten. Kirsten has the world at his feet after the recent World Cup win. He will have several options available to him. I would imagine that Kirsten will feel he has proved himself. Rather than him going through an application process, whoever wants him will have to come to him and agree to his terms. Rather than applying for a coaching job, he will respond to being headhunted.

Kirsten at this point holds all the aces. It must be appealing to him to take on an IPL coaching position or similar before he moves back into the international scene. This way he will be able to spend time with his family and consider options before accepting another challenging international job.

No national coaching position is without considerable pressure, and the South African job is no exception. The South African public is desperate for success at an ICC event. The next ICC event is the World Twenty20 next year in Sri Lanka. Should Kirsten accept the position, he will be under immediate pressure to transform the Proteas and bring home the trophy with a talented team - though not quite as strong as his recent Indian team with all the icon players he has been working with.

The advantage of securing the services of Kirsten for South Africa will be that he brings excellent qualities to a coaching position. He is a hands-on, hardworking coach with a non-confrontational style that appeals to the modern player. He brings a certain calmness to the dressing room. In the current turmoil, after the disappointment of South Africa's World Cup campaign, this will be a good thing.

The next South African captain will more than likely be one of Johan Botha, AB de Villiers or Hashim Amla. They can all stake a strong claim for the position. One captain for all three playing disciplines will be a good option. A new coach together with a new captain in all forms of the game will be the right move and will allow captain and coach to stamp their authority on the team and take South African cricket forward. A split captaincy at this point will make it very difficult for a new captain and coach to function successfully.

The most likely captain at this point is AB de Villiers. He is ready for the job. The advantage of de Villiers is that he is a certain selection in all versions of the game. He is an established and respected member of the team. He is young enough to be in the team for some time to come. He has become his own man and has matured as an individual and as a player. He ticks the right boxes.

In the past Johan Botha has done an excellent job as stand-in captain. He has all the right attributes for the job. The problem is that he doesn't appear to be a certain selection in all forms of the game.

The same applies to Hashim Amla. Amla has tremendous value as a top-order batsman and as a senior player. He is unlikely, though, to play in the Twenty20 format. There appears to be a reluctance on Amla's behalf, as well, to take on the position.

A de Villiers-Kirsten combination looks a good one. Cricket South Africa have been very supportive of Graeme Smith and his senior players as well as the coaching staff. They will embrace and support the new regime in the same way. All of South Africa will be watching and hoping that they find a World Cup-winning combination over the next few weeks.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raziulnur on April 14, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    Surely Kirsten ll be best option as coach. Botha isnot da perfect one specially his place is not confirm in ny kinds of game as tahir is da main spinner. So btween AB n Amla, it should b AB as he is proactive in da field.

  • dummy4fb on April 14, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    Bring on Gibbs..................sack most overrated opportunist cricketers smith & duminy who do nothing at big stage..........Duminy raises his avg by remainning not out & his technique is so poor that he gets bold repeatedly

  • sirvivfan on April 13, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    To me it has to be Amla. Very good player in both one day and test match. I actually think he is ok for 20:2 0 as wel, only if he was given a chance! He has out so red Smith When ever I have watched him. Also he looks very calm, and will fit the image of new south Africa which needs to move on. Some how mr Wessels represents the past. As to coach Kirsten is qualified in more ways then most. Challenge for future south African management is to support and develop more representation from Africans. I am from Pakistanand I love watching cricket in South Africa. Good luck who ever gets the nod,there is plenty of talent to pick from going forward riaz

  • jzigbe on April 13, 2011, 8:41 GMT

    Couch is obvious. Captain should either be Botha or Amla. Have you people noticed how well Botha is batting at no. 3 in the IPL !?

  • FAB_ALI on April 13, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Kirsten and De villiers, Ideal. They should look to keep the team strong and confident with influential leaders and shouldnt target the ICC events directly. Success will come through hard work and small but constant achievements.

  • HostileJ on April 13, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    Kepler my man - as long as they DONT select you as coach all of us will be happy. I have to agree with Muhammed Qm and can add that unfortunately whenever you get to give your opinion about SA cricket there is always this negative pessimistic feel about it.SA doesnt just play 5 tests and 5 odi's a year like they did in your day.Plus there are 3 disciplines now, not just 2 like in your day. Smith, Ponting, Vettori and Sangakkara are the 1st examples of captains that succumb under the pressures of todays schedule.Dhoni is an exception and on a massive high at the moment.The best thing that can happen is for Smith (even though you dont like him kepler) to pull back his resignation for 1dayers - botha can handle 20/20. AB, Amla and Botha are not at the right stages of their careers to be selected captain of the 1day side.Alternatively, if you want to drop Biff (or make space for a captain), get Jacques Rudolph to captain 1dayers and 20/20.

  • Baria00 on April 13, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    @ Sriram TB..first of all Kirsten will do a good job anywhere he coaches. man has played more than 100 test matches and more than 200 one days. he knows the ups and downs on the cricket fields and mental aspect of the game. secondly as per SA being the best, they r not even close. u take Amla, Kallis and AB out and they have nothing left. Smith is overrated to a point. they got two premier bowlers thats it in Steyn and Morkel. they have no middle order to speak of. they beat india when india were at one of the lowest point. india can play pace, they have proved over and over again in past 5 years. SA did beat india but they also could not chase 160 against england. SA will only be a force if they find a good spinner and solid middle order.

  • dummy4fb on April 13, 2011, 2:22 GMT

    Appointing Kirsten should be a no brainer but an over-expectation from him to do what he achieved with the Indians may place both the coach and the coached into a psychological bind. Best will be to define the targets and set the objective at the outset.

    Captaincy; no one better than Botha. I do not buy he is not an automatic selection for Tests. He should be. Look at Dhoni; he is not the most talented cricketer the Indians have at the moment, but they cannot afford to miss out on his leadership assets.

    Wisdom lies in choosing the right when time is ripe. ABD idea is great but better if SA let him concentrate on his perceived essentials for a while longer, rather than stress him too early.

  • dummy4fb on April 12, 2011, 20:53 GMT

    Of course the SA public would love too see if Gazza's magic can deliver Protea success beyond the artifice of merely topping the rankings. Choose wisely, Cricket SA.

  • dummy4fb on April 12, 2011, 19:30 GMT

    @Sriram TB You are trying too hard to be a cricket neutral here.Only cricketing talent does not merit success.South Africa and Australia don't have spin talents to start with.South Africa has always been a consistent side but they faltered almost every time in knockout matches.If I want my batsmen to perform against any side it has to be Pakistan.India is no champion side but there is none currently now.It has to be the best from the pack of these flawed teams.No one is invincible and that adds beauty to the game.I don't understand the need for mentioning the past Australian teams here?

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