Mickey Arthur has resigned as South Africa coach following a breakdown in his relationship with captain Graeme Smith. Former South African fast bowler Corrie van Zyl has been appointed caretaker coach and will be in charge of the team for the two-Test and three-ODI tour of India next month.
"The timing is very unfortunate with an exciting two-Test tour of India coming up but the international cricket calendar these days means that there is never a good time," Arthur told Reuters. "But all good things must come to an end and now is the time for someone else to take over."
Officials in Cricket South Africa were unavailable for comment but a board release said Arthur and its CEO, Gerald Majola, would address the press on Wednesday morning. "We're not commenting on the issue until tomorrow," Michael Owen-Smith, a spokesman for CSA, said. "We're not saying anything until Mickey Arthur has had his say."
A report in the Witness said the relationship between Arthur and Smith had "deteriorated irreparably", and reached a flashpoint during the recent home series against England. It also said Vincent Barnes, South Africa's bowling coach, has been sacked.
Kepler Wessels, a former South Africa captain, was not surprised by the development. "There has been some speculation in the last couple of weeks, so it is not a total surprise," he told iafrica.com. "I still think it is sad, he did a good job for South Africa."
Arthur reportedly had talks with Majola in Johannesburg following the completion of the home series against England. Majola had said the meeting was not in response to the 1-1 series result and that it had been planned in December.
"The Proteas are our greatest asset and the meeting will discuss ways in which they can get even better," Majola had said. "This is our last opportunity to meet with the management of the team - including coach Mickey Arthur and captain Graeme Smith - before they go to India and then on to the West Indies for the World Twenty20 and the tour of the islands. The next time we can have a meeting like this is in June.
"Our financial year ends in April and we need to know what the Proteas need to improve. Maybe they need a specialist coach of some kind, or more medical staff - but we have to include that in our budget for the next financial year."
During Arthur's tenure, which began when he succeeded Ray Jennings in 2005, South Africa won their first series in England in over 40 years and achieved their maiden series victory in Australia in 2008-09. "I am very proud of what the Proteas have achieved while I was coach, especially being ranked number one in both forms of the game in the last 12 months and winning series in England and Australia," he said.
Arthur's resignation came four days before South Africa leave for India. Van Zyl, his temporary replacement, was South Africa's assistant coach in the past and was appointed coach of CSA's high-performance centre in Pretoria in 2009.