June 3, 2002

New South African coach to be named this week

The guessing game involving the identity of Graham Ford's successor should resolve itself before the end of this week with the announcement of a new South African national coach likely to be made before the weekend.

The National Cricket Committee met on Monday to vet the nominations for the position after Ford was sacked at the weekend and recommendations have passed on to the United Cricket Board's General Council.

The new coach is likely to come from a list of possibles that has been widely bandied about. Former South African one-day players Eric Simons, who currently coaches Western Province along with Vincent Barnes, KwaZulu-Natal's former West Indian Test player Eldine Baptiste and Dave Nosworthy of Northerns have been touted as favourites with Kepler Wessels and Peter Kirsten mentioned as dark horse.

Kirsten, however, has just taken up membership of the National Cricket Committee and would come as something as a surprise if his first involvement amounted to pushing his claims as national coach. Wessels, meanwhile, may be seen as too single-minded and stubborn to be offered the job. It may also be held against him that he made it clear he had no wish to serve on either the Cricket Committee or the selection panel.

Of the probables, perhaps Simons has the best credentials, having played 23 One-Day Internationals during the mid-1990s. In truth, though, there is no obvious replacement for Ford who, many feel, has paid the price for the UCB's lack of guidance.

Reflecting on his dismissal, Ford made the point that while he had been blamed for a perceived lack of discipline in the South African team during its encounters with Australia during the past summer.

"From the start, I was meant to be a facilitator, someone behind the scenes working on the finer details of strategy and technique. The UCB never said anything to me about changing my approach," Ford said.

Bearing this in mind, the new coach may want his duties and responsibilities spelled out clearly for him by the UCB before accepting the job.

In a clear reference to the breakdown in communications which developed between Ford and the previous convener of selectors, Rushdi Magiet, a statement by the UCB on Monday said: "The National Cricket Committee outlined the responsibilities of the Convenor of National Selectors in respect of his relationships with the coach, captain and players. It was agreed that the national coach and captain should be consulted on selection matters, although the convener of selectors should have the final say in team selections and take final responsibility for those selection issues."

A new physiotherapist to take over from Craig, who was also sacked at the weekend, will also be named later this week.