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Jennings' job in jeopardy after U-19 World Cup win

Firdose Moonda

March 3, 2014

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Ray Jennings with a bowling machine at a South African training session, Port Elizabeth, December 15 2004
The role of national Under-19 coach is set to be split into two Paul Gilham / © Getty Images
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Less than 48 hours after winning the Under-19 World Cup, South Africa's coach Ray Jennings had to face up to an uncomfortable reality. His position, in its current form, will no longer exist because Cricket South Africa announced a restructure.

Instead of a one-man coaching job, the role will be split into two. One appointee will look after development cricket from U-13 to U-19 level while a second person will be in charge of high performance, which will include players from U-19 to semi-professional (those who play primarily in the provincial competition) level. Both will have input into the national U-19 side but the position of head coach, which Jennings has occupied since 2006, effectively falls away.

Applications for the two positions will open shortly and while Jennings can put his name into the hat, he has yet to decide on his future. "It does concern me," Jennings said at the team's reception at Newlands. "I also need to know where I am going. I have been loyal to South Africa but if people don't want you, you've got to pack up and move on."

Jennings has hinted he is not ready to do that just yet and credited the current team with reinvigorating his desire to coach cricket. "They really gave me a kickstart," Jennings said. "They were on the same wavelength as me and were a breath of fresh air. Sometimes as a coach, you lose faith in the younger generation but these guys were professional. I have a formula as a coach and these guys ticked that formula. They got up every day and did the right thing."

The close bonds formed between the current South African U-19 side were partly the result of a different living arrangement in the recent World Cup. The squad shared an four-bedroom apartment in the UAE and the management staff split themselves up in the rooms rather than hole up in one of them on their own and leave the players to their own devices.

"It was first occasion in which we really spent time like that and it helped us get really close to the players," Jennings said. "I don't think other squads had that experience. We were a team of people together and we were going to walk on water together."

The biblical reference may seem an exaggeration to some but Jennings is the only South African coach to win a World Cup at any level, making his achievement unprecedented in these parts. Combined with his record as U-19 coach - he has only lost four matches at World Cups in eight years - his position may have been considered more secure than it is now.

"It was my job when I started coaching to turn the side around because U-19 cricket is important," he said. "In the first year I took over, 2006, we finished in 11th place and we lost to Nepal in the quarter-finals. We've gone from that to winning."

Players such as Dean Elgar, Wayne Parnell and Quinton de Kock have passed through Jennings' hands and his combination of discipline and cricket knowledge have been credited with developing young cricketers.

This is the second bit of bad news Jennings has received this year. In January, he discovered he was no longer in charge of the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise when Daniel Vettori was unveiled as their new head coach. Jennings had been in charge of the franchise since 2009 and took them to the final twice, in 2009 and 2011. His best finish at the CLT20 was in the finals in 2011.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Marktc on (March 5, 2014, 9:48 GMT)

I agree with the comments...Jet is not a rule payer as much as he thrives on discipline. He has a brilliant cricket mind, knows how to connect with the players and enjoys what he does.....and then CSA, in all their wisdom, will turn their back on him. I agree, Domingo is not national coach quality and the Proteas have really moved nowhere, and judging by the latest series, and despite the Kallis loss, have gone downhill. Sadly with the loss of Smith as leader, I do not see the Proteas dominating as number one ranked team for long.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2014, 22:08 GMT)

@ArnoldVDH...Graem Smith is wearing the Protea for the last time on Wednesday. Ray Jennings will stay in South Africa. I met this man as a 13year old during the Coca Cola Cricket week at Grey PE...years later I understood why he loved Youth Cricket. The whole current Proteas team came through his fingers. He knows them, but will stay on bringing through players.

Posted by ArnoldVDH on (March 3, 2014, 19:01 GMT)

I understand Jennings is to much of a disciplinarian for Graeme Smith.

Hence why he never got the job full time after that tour to the West Indies a few years ago. However, since I am of the unfounded opinion that Smith will retire from test cricket after the tour by the West Indies later this year since his friends Kallis and Boucher are no longer there, this may well be the time to offer the job to Jennings a 2nd time.

Posted by mmoosa on (March 3, 2014, 17:13 GMT)

@PunzS ...Thats a good call mate....in fact i would prefer Jennings over Domingo anytime for the Proteas...Domingo is a nice man but has never played first class cricket and it shows in the Proteas having stalled somewhat as a team instead of moving forward.

If ever there was a ringing endorsement of Jenning's methods,it is his results with the under 19's,not to mention doing a fine stop gap job with the Proteas when they needed a "hard man" to give them direction.Of course he is a brusque tough character is "Jet" and not the typical establishment man. Anyhow it is a dumb idea to introduce the structures as mentioned.

Another guy who should be in the Proteas set up is Lance Klusener,,,but politics and short sighted administrators wont see his potential as they do not understand the sport.

Posted by Bamber on (March 3, 2014, 16:53 GMT)

Ray, come to England... We need you and you'll feel right at home, even without KP.

Posted by PunzS on (March 3, 2014, 14:32 GMT)

Since he is free now maybe he can take up the job of Team India coach...We need one !!

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