Mickey Arthur's resignation January 26, 2010

Pressure from above led to Arthur departure


Mickey Arthur's resignation as South Africa's coach came in the wake of increasing pressure from administrators over what they saw as the under-performance of the national team.

Arthur quit in dramatic circumstances on Monday, reportedly following an "irreparable breakdown" in his relationship with Graeme Smith. But a source close to Cricket South Africa denied that a rift had developed between coach and captain.

"This is not a Graeme issue," the source told Cricinfo. "Graeme is not that powerful. It looks ugly because he has been through three coaches (Eric Simons, Ray Jennings and Arthur) and three convenors of selectors, but he is still a young captain."

Arthur also said his resignation had nothing to do with Smith. "This is not about Graeme," he told the Hindustan Times."I have absolutely no issues with Graeme. We had and have a very sound relationship. It will all come out in the press conference tomorrow, as he's flying down to keep me company."

Instead, it seems official reaction to South Africa's comparative lack of recent success forced Arthur's hand. The team won just one of the six Tests they played in 2009, and drew their home series against England this month.

"Arthur doesn't handle pressure well at all, and he is facing pressure from a few different sources on a few different issues," the source said. "The board is questioning him on the team's non-performance and on issues like transformation. Even though he has been getting frustrated with these questions, the timing of his resignation is strange."

However, Smith's vice-captain, Ashwell Prince, disagreed that South Africa had performed poorly with Arthur at the helm. "He's had five years in the job, and he's taken the team to the top in both the Test and one-day rankings," Prince told Cricinfo. "I wouldn't have thought he would be under pressure to resign."

Despite their consistently high one-day ranking, South Africa have failed to win ICC events and have instead earned a reputation as the most reliable chokers in the game. Prince took a different view. "South Africa haven't done as well as they would have liked in one-day and Twenty20 tournaments, but those events are tough to win," he said.

Whatever the reasons behind Arthur's resignation, a selection dispute doesn't seem to be among them. "I was very surprised," South Africa's selection chief and a former national coach himself, Mike Procter, told Cricinfo. "We had meetings last Tuesday, and there was no hint of anything like this. I didn't have a clue."

South Africa's Test and one-day squads for their imminent tour to India were announced last Monday. Neither squad contained the kind of shock selection that could force a resignation, and Procter said conflicts with Arthur were rare: "He was very good to work with from a selector's point of view. Obviously, we had the odd disagreement over selection, but that's normal."

Prince was equally bemused by Arthur's decision. "For me, it's quite a surprise," he said. "I will miss him, because the team operates like a family. Just the other day we all had Christmas lunch together, along with our wives and children."

Corrie van Zyl, a former South African assistant coach, will take the team to India in a caretaker capacity. The source denied that Vincent Barnes had, as has been reported, been sacked or had resigned as bowling coach.

Kepler Wessels, the former South African captain and Northamptonshire coach, is one of the contenders to replace Arthur in the long-term, as is the former England coach, Duncan Fletcher, who has served the team as a batting consultant in recent seasons. Arthur is reportedly hoping to further his career with an English county.

Telford Vice and Firdose Moonda are freelance cricket writers in South Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anon_gish on January 28, 2010, 15:16 GMT

    I think this is all just an elaborate ruse to find an excuse when SA lose the test series to India next month! ;-)

  • HOWZNOW on January 28, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    The selections have been very strange in 2009. Ashwell Prince always was so dependable and a classy test batsman in the middle order. He repeated fails as an opener, but the coach / selectors rigidly keep him in a position where he openly admits , he does not perform at his best. At the same time they rigidly persist with JP in the middle order, and for a year he has done nothing as a Test batsman. Harris has been seriously off form for some time. Graeme Swann was superb. Johan Botha is an excellent inclusion in the Test squad for India

  • morningstars on January 28, 2010, 4:10 GMT

    Simple fact, South Africa, like any other professional team must win championships. Mickey is a good manager but the lack of trophies will always lead to a manager's sacking. Mickey had five years. The team needs a change of direction towards championships. We'll always be ranked in the top 3 anyway.

  • ExpatZaffer on January 27, 2010, 14:38 GMT

    LOL.Welcome to South African sport.The Arthur/Smith combination took us from 6th in the world to number 1 and they have always shown a united front.Suggestions that there is a split were completely dispelled when watching them interact at the press conference.Yes,2009 was a bad year but we're still in the top 2-3 in the world.And if Arthur was the problem,why fire the selection committee as well?According to some sources "non-performance and slow transformation".Non-performance?SA DOMINATED England through the majority of the Test series and the squad that beat England and Aus away and drew in India is much the same right now so if anyone under performed it was the players.This leaves only the poorly veiled transformation issue which isn't even an issue since a large chunk of the team is coloured/Indian.Does no one else find it odd that this all happens the series after Ntini is dropped?The fact is that the ANC saw an oppportunity in a 1-1 draw and took it to clear out the furniture.

  • abufareed on January 27, 2010, 13:51 GMT

    Well there is definitely a lot more than what Arthur is saying. It is time both the ex coach and the SA Cricket board come out clean and tell the world where they went wrong.SA Cricket is equally to be blamed for the Underperforming SA Cricket team.Another five years and someone else will be at the helm, and god knows if that coach will succed in winning the Cricket World Cup or for that matter the Champions trophy.I really wish one day SA could win the World Cup or Champions trophy but at the moment they are not looking good to win any of those.My suggestion is that make Mr Imtiaz Patel the CEO of SA Cricket and you will see miracles taking place...

  • Pablo123 on January 27, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    SA politics doing it's bit to ruin everything that is good again. I will not be surprised if this is a transformation issue. Ridiculous in a country that is 16 years into its so called democracy. If anyone should resign, it's the panel in the CSA, for they have not lived up to their transformation and development plans from years ago. There is not a single black player waiting in the ranks to be selected on merit for the test team. This is not Mickey's fault, I just wish the rest of the world would put pressure on SA's stupid committees to field the best team possible - always.

    Agreed that the last few years, they have been very close to the best 11 on the field, but recent developments could see a huge change in cricket SA as we know it, I just hope they know what they are doing or we could see SA being trounced by palookas.

  • gokaran on January 27, 2010, 13:42 GMT


    why was a has been like gibs selected for the India tour ahead of other promising and proven talents? something is not right with the selection panel!!!

    Please tell us about the new structure and process for the selction panel. Why cant the current panel be part of this process. Gerrie Majola you seem to be hiding something

  • mojojesus on January 27, 2010, 12:46 GMT

    As Mickey said- " All good things did come to an end ".... I fervently hope SA can rebound ....

  • paulantony on January 27, 2010, 12:19 GMT

    Certainly tough times for SA Cricket, Mickey should have quit later, what with the very tough tour to India wih a SA coach coming up. Without Mickey the tour to India has become even tougher. Mickey advice would have been of great help to counter India's steady rise to the top. Now i can only hope that SA does well.

  • thirdmanboundary on January 27, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    SA risks going the way of Pakistan, who have always had tons of talent but keep getting derailed by administrators and politicians who sack players/captains/selection committees/coaches at the drop of the hat, even when the team is doing well. This thunderbolt will be tough on SA team spirit and player morale and risks undoing some of the gains of the england series--not least the discovery of that rarest of commodities, a world-class fast bowling pair at the peak of their powers. This team will have to be superhuman to hold itself together mentally in India.

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