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'Where are the allrounders South Africa should be producing?'

Brian McMillan on the sidelines of an interview Jonhenry Wilson

You haven't remained in cricket through coaching or administration, unlike a lot of your former team-mates, such as Kepler Wessels, Jonty Rhodes, Andrew Hudson and others. Was this a conscious decision?
Before and while playing cricket at provincial and international level, I was also pursuing a career as a successful businessman. When I retired from cricket, I did a Masters in business. If you spend two or three years doing a Masters, to go into coaching as well wasn't really going to work. Cricket has always been a part of my life and I suppose, at the end of the day, if I am offered a big enough job in coaching, I might consider it. My heart is still in cricket, as it was a major part of my life.

You have also stayed away from media punditry and television or radio commentary.
It has been two-plus decades that we have been back in international cricket, and I still believe one has to select the best side - but not let the politicians and their politics get involved in sport. This is apparently also carried over into the commentary team. I can't afford labels. I've got my views on different players. I believe there are more than enough cricketers to be selected on merit to make the side - and for them to carry the label of being a quota player is really unfair on them and everybody else. Herschelle Gibbs, I know, has voiced his opinion on this in the past. As long as we select the right team, we will always be up there with the rest and compete with the best.

What is your opinion on the composition of South Africa's 2015 World Cup squad?
The squad could be a lot stronger. I believe players like Wayne Parnell, Farhaan Behardien and even Quinton de Kock have got a way to go to really compete on the international stage. Specifically for the World Cup, I would have included players like Ryan McLaren and Albie Morkel, due to his competence and experience on the international stage. Dean Elgar too, because of his grittiness and determination. This would have added a nice balance to the side. I don't believe the balance of the current squad is correct - mindset and competitive edge-wise.

"I believe players like Wayne Parnell, Farhaan Behardien and even Quinton de Kock have got a way to go to really compete on the international stage"

AB de Villiers would have to play as the wicketkeeper. It is the World Cup - there are only so many games to play as a wicketkeeper. If de Villiers got injured, Elgar could have carried the glove work. Imran Tahir, meanwhile, has done very well of late. Something has happened for the good, working alongside [spin-bowling consultant] Claude Henderson. There is no doubt that he is a better package these days. As for Rilee Rossouw, the bottom line is, if he is going to play, it will have to be in place of Quinton as an opening batsman.

Henderson is part of a rather large backroom staff, which includes Mike Hussey, Allan Donald, Charl Langeveldt, Gary Kirsten and Adrian Birrell. Is this necessary?
I appreciate that the game has moved on, whereas in the old days you had guys like Bob Woolmer carrying the coaching helm. There was no place to hide for them. It now appears too easy to pull in specialist coaching staff. If the head coach is to be a manager of sorts, then surely a business person would be a more appropriate solution, as he wouldn't actually be coaching a lot. Management skills would be the biggest requirement. The only reason that I can think of for the abundance of coaching staff is a lack of confidence in the individual skills. I also appreciate the fact that you cannot have all the skills at all times, and it is necessary to bring specialist skills in from time to time. I think the coaching staff is quite top-heavy at the moment.

Russell Domingo said before the World Cup: "As a unit, we're trying to play the World Cup down as much as we can. It's difficult to do, but we're trying to see it as just another series." Do you agree with the sentiment? What are your thoughts on the "chokers" tag?
I have to be honest. I'd be very, very worried if my head coach said we were approaching the World Cup as just another series. The World Cup doesn't come around every day and there is a huge status attached to it. World Cups and big series are the ones you really want to be winning. "Chokers" is such a big label to hang over the guys' heads, and very unfair. Can one point fingers at the All Blacks, who have been on top of their game for almost two decades but have only won one World Cup in that period? When you play big tournaments, luck plays a role - look at our rain-affected 1992 World Cup exit as an example.

More than 20 years later, are your memories of the 1992 World Cup still vivid?
Going over to Australia, playing on those great fields and in front of those crowds, not having played or experienced this before, it was all fantastic. I, as a 28-year-old, was one of the oldest in the squad. We had the right captain at the time in Kepler Wessels and we had a good all-round squad, one of the best, I believe, to date. Playing at the MCG, playing against England, too, it was a great eye-opener.

Have you kept in touch with members of the 1992 squad?
We don't necessarily keep in contact. But when we see each other we enjoy a bit of banter. I chat to Kepler now and then, and - not from the 1992 World Cup squad - Pat Symcox, Daryll Cullinan and Brett Schultz. The blokes were pretty close with each other while playing. Adrian Kuiper I see playing golf in Hermanus or around Cape Town.

Most modern-day allrounders have a primary role with the bat or ball, whereas you never really leaned toward one or the other.
I believe I was more of a genuine allrounder. In our day, we classified an allrounder as a cricketer who could play in the side as a bowler or a batsman. Botham was one of those, whereas a guy like Shaun Pollock was a bowling allrounder. Obviously, if you are bowling on really flat wickets, you want to be a batsman. On the greentop pitches, you want to be a bowler. It's common knowledge that I didn't really enjoy bowling. Trying to get over the stiffness and soreness was the biggest problem. But ultimately I enjoyed both aspects, so it wasn't such a big issue for me.

"We should have an abundance of allrounders. Could one draw the conclusion that selection policies show no future for certain sections of players?"

Wayne Parnell and JP Duminy don't necessarily inspire confidence across both codes.
I think I would agree, yes, if those are the types of allrounders coming through. If that's the quality, then there is a bit of a problem. One should ask the question: where are all the thousands of school allrounders? One can look back at the structures at school and provincial level. Are players being chased away? Are they living overseas? If we produced great allrounders previously, in my era, and before my time, like Clive Rice, Eddie Barlow and thereafter guys like Jacques Kallis - where are those types now? One should ask these questions: is the system chasing players away? We should have an abundance of allrounders. Could one draw the conclusion that selection policies show no future for certain sections of players?

And, of course, the third code - fielding; slip fielding specifically.
I watch it all the time. I see the standard has improved a lot over the years. If you look back to when Mark and Steve Waugh were around - and Shane Warne, Mark Taylor, Dave Rundle - those were solid slip fielders. With the advent of T20 cricket, guys don't stick around in the slip cordon for very long, if at all, so that speciality of being a slip fielder is being lost in this version of the game.

World cricket is a different canvas nowadays, with the advent of the Indian Premier League. Are you a fan of it?
The IPL would have suited a lot of cricketers like myself, Fanie de Villiers and Richard Snell. To bowl four overs and then go put your feet up would have been fantastic. Just bowl two bouncers, two slower balls and two yorkers for four overs and then rest - what a pleasure. And get paid for it. I think if I had played in the IPL I would have rather opened the batting than come in down the order. With the field in, my type of game would have been more suited to opening - striking the ball rather than trying to slog it. The Powerplays, especially, would have suited us very well.

Your exit from international cricket seemed a relatively low-key affair.
I stepped out rather quickly. There was an altercation on my last tour to the United Kingdom about the selection policy and convener of selectors. I disagreed with some of the selection policies, and I noted that if that's the way it was going to be, there was no point in playing cricket. Symcox and I were in the same boat. If we were going to stick around on tour and clean up the rubbish once it had hit the fan, then what was the point of playing? If I couldn't play all the time because of some odd decisions, then I'd rather pursue a business career. I conveyed that quite strongly to the management, and I don't know if they told the selectors or convener, but when I come back it was, good night, I'm out of here. And there was no communication back to me at the end of the tour.

"Symcox and I were in the same boat. If we were going to stick around on tour and clean up the rubbish once it had hit the fan, then what was the point of playing?"

Would you care to elaborate?
If you play at Edgbaston, on a green top, which was one of our first Test matches, you had to play allrounders there. They played batsmen who were ducking and diving. Needless to say, they lost. Thereafter, they pulled me in for the last game and I said I would play as a batsman. I remember telling them up front, in South Africa, we needed openers in the UK. They valued my opinion from time to time. Obviously the opening pair didn't perform adequately. I declined to open in the second Test and said I would bat at six. If I couldn't bat at six I wasn't prepared to play. It was as simple as that. They messed up the selection and then the older players would have to bail them out. I wasn't prepared to do that. The last game, I got 50-odd and got out, and then I was out of the international arena.

You were stranded unbeaten or out several times in the 80s and 90s, but you ultimately managed four centuries in international cricket. What were your other career highlights?
The 1992 World Cup was a big feature - and winning at Lord's in July 1994. I got three Test centuries and missed out on about 11 or 12 others. Batting with the tailenders was a nightmare. I got out in the 80s and 90s a lot due to the pressure of potentially being stranded. There were a lot of times, had I been batting with the top order, I could have gone on and scored more centuries.

Has playing a bit of friendly club cricket remained among your hobbies?
Golf and fishing, those are my pastimes. I've had my time with cricket. For me to run up and try to bowl now, my knees would probably pack up. I enjoy watching, and if there are people who want a bit of cricket help, I do get involved, but I can't see myself going to play cricket on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I have other interests now - going fishing in Hermanus, and that sort of thing. Two of my kids and my wife are involved in our successful family business.