Confusion over the future of the national captain Hansie Cronje, national selectorial mismanagement and a heavy defeat in the LG Cup series by India in Nairobi has left an ugly bruise on the face of a South Africa side seeking a new direction.
Cronje's plan to coach Glamorgan for two summers "to protect my future" is seen as a direct challenge to convener Rushdie Majiet's new national election panel to define a policy as trace elements all too familiar with rugby's ugly fall out after the 1995 World Cup gather momentum. South Africa's team insiders have suggested that Cronje may yet follow Francois Pienaar into exile as selectors such as Kepler Wessels write newspaper columns suggesting that either Shaun Pollock or Dale Benkenstein may take over the leadership role.
This, it has been claimed, is likely to emerge next year when South Africa tour India in February and March with the new captain's place being secured during the tour of Sri Lanka next August and September. Dr Ali Bacher, managing-director of the United Cricket Board, has flown to Nairobi, to talk with Cronje and minimise the "damage control" of South Africa's selection policy plans before the Tests against Zimbabwe next month and November followed by those against England.
Along with the philosophy that Cronje's time has come and just about gone in the wake of the World Cup failure in England this year, younger, more promising material it has been claimed by insiders sit biting their nails in the wings of hope.
It is an all too familiar sporing scenario: barely had Pienaar led South Africa to success in the rugby version of the World Cup final against New Zealand at Ellis Park in July 1995 than snipiing to replace him with someone else had begun. Only six days ago Cronje made an impressive, impassioned address to an audience which included Majiet, the new selection convener, at the launch of the South Africa cricket annual, drawing on the sayings on Conrad Hunte, the former West Indies star opening batsman. Hunte was also passed over as a captain and went into a lengthy exile in the United States.
What is taking place at present is that Glamorgan, anxious to lift their profile in the English county scene in 2000 and 2001, and having lost former South African A coach Duncan Fletcher to England, have just about been presented "on a plate" as it were, the South African captain as a viable alternative. With the selectors sending mixed signals it is not surprising that Cronje has decided to look overseas for a career with long-term prospects.
It was, say the insiders, Fletcher, who suggested that Cronje be approached to see if he was ready to take on the responsibility.