June 1, 2002

South Africa sack coach Ford

On a bleak day for South African cricket, the news of the death of Hansie Cronje was followed shortly by the announcement that national coach Graham Ford had lost his job.

According to a United Cricket Board press release, the UCB general council decided on Saturday "to terminate the contracts of national coach Graham Ford and physiotherapist Craig Smith. The affiliates of the UCB have been asked to forward names of possible replacements to UCB CEO Gerald Majola before the National Cricket Committee meets on Monday 3 June 2002. The National Cricket Committee will consider these applications and nominations and will make recommendations to the General Council."

Ford becomes the second major casualty of South Africa's unhappy summer against Australia last season, although many will feel he has been harshly treated. Ford, appointed towards the end of Cronje's reign as captain, almost certainly fell into a vacuum in which the powers and responsibilities of the coach, captain, manager and selection convener were never clearly spelled out.

The failures against Australia have to be measured against South Africa's achievements in winning Test series in India and in the West Indies while he was coach.

"I'd like to think I stood firm for cricket," said Ford on Saturday. "If you don't stand up for what you believe you just get knocked around. I'm not bitter, but I made a few enemies along the way."

Ford's contract was due to run until the end of next year's World Cup and it would seem likely that the UCB will have to negotiate some form of compensation for him.

No successor has been named yet, but the National Cricket Committee will consider nominations and applications on Saturday before making a recommendation to the General Council. Eric Simons of Western Province, Eldine Baptiste of KwaZulu-Natal and Dave Nosworthy of Northerns are considered to be front-runners for the position.

The General Council also announcement the names of 21 players who will receive national contracts.

The contracted players are:

Category A+

Mark Boucher (30 April 2004), Herschelle Gibbs (30 April 2004), Jacques Kallis (30 April 2004), Gary Kirsten (30 April 2003), Lance Klusener (30 April 2003), Shaun Pollock (30 April 2004).

Category A

Paul Adams (30 April 2004), Nicky Boje (30 April 2003), Allan Donald (30 April 2003), Makhaya Ntini (30 April 2004), Jonty Rhodes (30 April 2003).

Category B

Boeta Dippenaar (30 April 2003), Mornantau Hayward (30 April 2003), Neil McKenzie (30 April 2003), Mfuneko Ngam (30 April 2003).

Category C

Steve Elworthy (30 April 2003), Justin Ontong (30 April 2003), Ashwell Prince (30 April 2003), Jacques Rudolph (30 April 2003), Graeme Smith (30 April 2003), Roger Telemachus (30 April 2003).

All contracts are subject to the players successfully passing a medical and fitness test. Financial conditions are to be finalized between the UCB and players.

In another announcement, Peter Kirsten will join the National Cricket Committee to replace Pat Symcox and Haroon Lorgat who have both been appointed as national selectors.