Radical coaching overhaul needed
Cricket South Africa (CSA) need to take a long hard look at the coaching situation at franchise and semi-professional level in the country. The sudden exodus of experienced, leading coaches indicates a massive problem. Some of these coaching positions are deemed unworkable by the better coaches and the reality of the situation is that for some time now, the best people have not considered applying for these jobs because they are no longer viable.
The time may have come for CSA to take over coaching appointments at the different franchises. It may also be time for the national selectors to select the contracted players at each franchise. This may seem a radical idea, and would take away the autonomy of the franchises and perhaps punish those organisations that do a good job, but at least it will ensure that important decisions are taken more objectively in most other quarters. The current system only works well in one or two of the franchises.
The coaching positions are a problem. Competent coaches with a strong personality and a good work ethic scare some people in authority, as well as some senior players. Your typical coach who survives in this industry at the moment strokes the ego of senior players and administrators. Self preservation is the key, and achieving that requires being what the perceived people in power want the coach to be first and foremost. The second priority sadly becomes the coaching itself.
Sir Alex Ferguson is regarded as the leading light in the coaching and management world of professional sport at the moment. Why? The answer is simple. He is a strong individual who is highly competent in his field. His work reflects his beliefs and he doesn’t compromise his high standards. The real reason why his regime works is that he has the full backing of the Board at his club.
He has taken numerous career decisions regarding the most famous and popular players, sometimes in the face of adversity. In these cases he backed his own judgement, and more often than not he has been right. The reason this leadership style continues to work is that Sir Alex has the unequivocal backing of the board. Retaining this support and backing from the board has been a fine achievement in itself.
Other coaches and managers have tried the same approach but sadly their respective boards have not backed them and at the first sign of adversity, have fired the coach or the manager. This is always the easy call to make.
Should CSA feel that the franchises should continue to operate on their own terms regarding the above (and I expect them to), then they should at least put measures in place to ensure they get more say regarding appointments and selections. The best available individuals should get these positions. If they don’t, it will have disastrous consequences for the development of our players in the future. The way things stand at the moment for a coach, every day could be your last – irrespective of a contract term. Who would want to work under those circumstances?