Enoch Nkwe, first interim team director and then assistant coach of the South Africa men's national team between August 2019 and August 2021, has been appointed as strategic cricket consultant by Lions in the South African domestic set-up.
It is a short-term, two-month appointment, the first for Nkwe since he stepped down from the job with the national team because of what ESPNcricinfo understood at the time to be disillusionment with the job itself, and differences of opinion with head coach Mark Boucher, though the issues were not related to race.
"This has been several months in the making with myself, the team and Enoch expressing an interest in working together once more," Lions cricket CEO Jono Leaf-Wright said in a statement. "It all comes down to high performance - we strive for setting up structures that will drive high performance, impacting men and women.
"Enoch will work with our framework coaches and our system in this space as well as the semi-professional Imperial Lions women's team and the Imperial Lions men's team. We know that Enoch will add tremendous value in terms of what players we want to retain, who we want to attract and how best to position ourselves moving into the next season."
Nkwe has a long association with the team, having played first-class cricket for Gauteng and Lions from 2002-09, and then served as head coach of the Gauteng Under-19s, Gauteng Strikers and Lions Cubs side. With the Lions franchise, Nkwe won the first-class and T20 competitions in 2018-19, and was also the head coach at Jozi Stars when they won the inaugural Nzansi Super League in 2018. Nkwe has also worked as assistant coach with the Netherlands men's team.
Boucher's strong presence as coach left Nkwe feeling sidelined, leading to his resignation as assistant coach•AFP
"Lions Union have been successful over the last couple of seasons under the leadership of the CEO Jono Leaf-Wright, head coach Wandile Gwavu and the rest of the Lions staff," Nkwe said. "We all know that Lions Cricket has the best cricketing system in the country, so I am confident in my decision to be here, and hope to help the system reach even greater heights."
When he stepped down as Boucher's assistant on August 24, 2021, sources close to both Nkwe and Boucher had told ESPNcricinfo that the pair's personalities were incompatible and Boucher's strong presence as a coach left Nkwe feeling sidelined. At the same time, Nkwe also wanted to have less of a role at training sessions and more input into the technical aspects of the game.
It is not known at this stage if Nkwe will testify at Boucher's disciplinary hearing in May, but it is unlikely. Nkwe told local media recently that despite being mentioned several times in Boucher's chargesheet, he had not seen the document and regarded the issue as being between CSA and Boucher, and not a personal matter between him and Boucher.
Separately, CSA is expected to advertise for the role of director of cricket with Graeme Smith's contract getting over at the end of March. ESPNcricinfo understands that Smith is unlikely to seek an extension in the role. It is also understood that Nkwe has expressed an interest in the position, along with Ashwell Prince, who resigned from his stint as Bangladesh batting coach earlier this month.