South Africa's next coach May 19, 2005

Mickey Arthur takes over from Jennings

Cricinfo staff

In the spotlight: Mickey Arthur faces the media © Getty Images

Mickey Arthur will replace Ray Jennings as South Africa's coach. Arthur, currently in charge of Eastern Cape, will take over on a two-year deal that will take him up to the end of the 2007 World Cup.

"After various recommendations Mickey was appointed and we have endorsed the process," said Gerald Majola, the chief executive of the United Cricket Board of South Africa at a press conference in Johannesburg. The announcement brought to an end an eventful six-month tenure for Jennings, whose final contributions to South Africa's cause were the recent 2-0 Test win and a 5-0 one-day whitewash against West Indies.

Jennings, a former South African wicketkeeper during the apartheid era, took over the role from Eric Simons on a stop-gap basis at the end of a disastrous tour of Sri Lanka last October. It was not an easy baptism for Jennings - his first Test series in charge was a 1-0 defeat in India, a result followed by the 2-1 reverse at home against England. It was South Africa's first home defeat against England in 40 years, and Jennings's controversial coaching methods attracted adverse attention especially after they left his captain, Graeme Smith, with concussion after an accident in a warm-up session at The Wanderers.

But slowly but surely he began to galvanise his team, and the results followed - a 4-1 one-day series win over England, in which he arrested a drastic run of 11 consecutive defeats against established opposition; a clean-sweep of the Zimbabweans, and then a triumphant tour of the Caribbean, at the end of which he dared the selectors to sack him.

But they chose in favour of Arthur, who was picked ahead of the likes of Steve Waugh, Tom Moody and Geoff Marsh, all of whom had been linked with the job. Arthur, 37, was a first-class cricketer till four years ago and he managed 6557 runs playing for Free State, Griqualand West and South Africa A. He was in the news last month when he refused to renew the contracts of two of Eastern Cape's most prominent players.

"It's an incredible honour and privilege and I feel that I can really step up to the breach and make a difference," said Arthur. "I am here to create a platform and an environment for our players to perform. My long-term goal is to ultimately become the best in the world."

As for Jennings, who was unafraid to take on the team's glamour boys, and whose preparation for the Indian tour included 4:30am wake-up calls, the association will continue as part of the elite programme to prepare players for the World Cup in 2007. Jennings will join Anton Ferreira, National Coaching Manager, and Gary Kirsten, High Performance Manager, and will undoubtedly have many inputs after an unprecedented unbeaten Caribbean campaign.

Majola expressed his gratitude to Jennings, saying: "We want to thank Ray for doing the job we asked him to do as a caretaker coach, and he has agreed to remain under contract for the next stage of his activities.

"We are now going to use his special talents in our High Performance Programme in preparation for the next World Cup. His experience of the West Indies conditions will be especially valuable".