Paddy Upton set for new Proteas role
Cricket South Africa is set to announce a change in the management structure of the national team with former fitness trainer and mental conditioning coach, Paddy Upton, set to assume an overseeing role as Proteas performance director.
Gary Kirsten will remain in overall command of the Proteas as head coach with assistant Russell Domingo and team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee both retaining their positions. Upton, however, will effectively be promoted to a new position from which he can contribute and advise in every department of the team, from physical fitness to preparation and logistics. He will work closely with Kirsten to continue creating the team culture that has been a hallmark of their success together.
“The Proteas is a business which extends a long way past the eleven players on the field and the national squad. Most of the various departments and personnel have, at some time or another, felt the need for more coordination and that’s what I’ll be doing from now on,” said Upton on the verge of the team’s departure for Europe and the tour of England which begins on July 9.
“I have worked with Gary for a very long time, even before we joined up with India, so I have an intimate understanding of his vision and principles. People don’t necessarily have to share that vision or those principles but it is important that they understand them, and that they are upheld throughout the national team’s structures,” Upton said.
“The objective is that we set up a culture that will provide the team with the best chance of having both success and enjoyment, and that when new players come into the national team they are fully aware of the level of personal responsibility expected of them.”
Upton was first appointed as the national team’s fitness trainer under coach Bob Woolmer in 1995 -- the first time any national team had made such an appointment fulltime. He later qualified as a business leadership coach, and worked as a mental conditioning coach under Kirsten for three years with India before assuming a similar position with South Africa when Kirsten was appointed just over a year ago.
The Proteas leave for a pre-tour camp in Switzerland on Monday where they will stay with famous explorer and adventurer, Mike Horn, with whom Upton went to university in Cape Town over 20 years ago.
“The four days we will spend there has little to do with cricket, it is rather about the team bonding and enjoying themselves. Mike invited the national team to spend some time with him at his camp and this is literally the only time we could all get together. It’s also on the way, of course. It’s about having some fun and learning a little bit about ourselves and life outside cricket.
The activities are a surprise, even for the players, but what we do know is that Mike will put us through our paces in a series of outdoor survival activities, testing our physical and mental skills on the mountains, rivers and glaciers. There's no flat ground to play cricket. In fact, I might suggest that the subject of cricket is banned entirely while we are there!” Upton said.