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Proteas coach: too big a job for one man?


I am ambivalent about the decision by Proteas head coach Gary Kirsten to relinquish the T20 coaching role in favour of assistant Russell Domingo for the moment. The reason given was that Kirsten wanted to concentrate on the upcoming test and one day series against New Zealand. Kirsten stated that this decision is in line with best practices around the world and precedents have been set in other countries. My feeling is still that if one accepts the role of head coach of an international team the responsibility encompasses the whole process.

A top international coach of a major cricketing nation is handsomely rewarded in financial terms. The job is highly pressurised and requires long periods away from home. This is the price one has to pay upon accepting the job. Family life does suffer and takes a back seat at different times. It is the nature of the beast. It will be difficult to engineer a situation where the head coach of a major playing nation has the best of both worlds. Something has to give at some point.

Australia tried this when Mickey Arthur didn’t go to Dubai earlier in the year so that he could concentrate his efforts on preparing and strategising for the World T20 which followed that tour. His support staff looked after the coaching on that tour leaving Arthur at home to ponder the upcoming T20 event The Aussies didn’t have a particularly good World T20. It is fair to say that the experiment didn’t work for them.

England are now following suit. They are sending Warwickshire coach Ashley Giles to take over from Andy Flower in India for the one day series. There are suggestions that the ECB will be splitting the post on a more permanent basis.

There is clearly a feeling around the world that the job of head coach of a top international team is too big for one person. Not too many other sporting codes are following this precedent. I suppose the Proteas are experimenting with this development at the right time.

New Zealand is not perceived to be a major threat on the upcoming tour to South Africa. They are an ordinary team at best and with their best batsman and former captain Ross Taylor out of the team as well, they present even less of a threat. As in all sporting decisions the wisdom of this change in coaching strategy will be measured in results.

Should the Proteas play well and dominate New Zealand like they should, the proposed plan will happen more often in the future as well. If things don’t go according to plan, it may be the last we see of the coaching rotation policy. It is one thing to go down this road in a relatively minor series. I don’t think for one minute it should happen in a major ICC event or against a major test-playing nation.

The head coach is there to lead the team and so he should in all important events


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