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Proteas simply not good enough

The verdict over the last few months for the Proteas is unfortunately a case of not being good enough in any discipline.

This applies across the board in all three formats of the game. Warning signs were already there on the New Zealand tour in February, and unfortunately the general decline in standards of the national team led to a disappointing defeat at the hands of an England team that has several problems of its own.

On the test match front there is no real challenge until India arrive next January. That tour is followed by Australia. Both India and Australia will test the Proteas even on home soil.

Before that there is the Bangladesh series at home in October. By the time the Bangladesh series starts in October the new coaching staff will hopefully be in place, bringing new purpose, direction and discipline into the playing group.

If the Proteas are to turn around their fortunes and compete at the top level on a consistent basis, several things have to change.

There is still enough talent available in our domestic game to challenge the top teams. There may not be quite enough ability at present to beat the other top nations consistently, but it is certainly possible to improve the performances of the current group and avoid the sub-par performances that we have been exposed to over the last few months.

The first thing that has to happen is to appoint a coaching team that will demand higher standards from the players in every respect.

In the modern game the players have become accustomed to having a lot of input on how things come together within an international squad. I don't have a problem with that, but the coaching team has to be strong enough to challenge and test the players in a way that brings out the best in the group.

I have said for some time now that the Proteas need an international coach with a profile that can contribute to making the team better. Ottis Gibson ticks all the boxes for the role.

He has vast experience as head coach of the West Indies and bowling coach of England on two separate occasions. It is essential that a head coach brings an area of technical expertise to the team that he is responsible for. Gibson does so in the bowling department, where he is well-respected.

Gibson played domestic cricket in South Africa for several years, so he has a full understanding of the political situation in the country.

If he is appointed he will hopefully be allowed to pick his own support staff. The support staff around the team is far too big at present and needs to be streamlined with the top priority being for each individual who is part of the support group to make a definite contribution to the team's success.

The next issue that needs to be solved is the uncertainty around AB de Villiers. A new coach will hopefully take a strong stand on the issue. The bottom line is that if De Villiers doesn't want to play for South Africa anymore, a line has to be drawn and the future approached without his abundant talents. No one is bigger than the team and it is unhealthy for any player to pick and choose when he wants to play.

If De Villiers has had enough of the demands of the international game, there is nothing wrong with his sentiment. No one will begrudge him a happy retirement or pursuing the lucrative T20 series around the world.

He has done his bit for his country but the time has come for a definitive decision on his playing future. Recent events haven't done his reputation any good and he will be well-advised to make a decision that either includes him or rules him out of playing for the Proteas.

It is inevitable that the focus in South African cricket will now shift to the upcoming Global T20. It is important that the event itself is successful, but the importance of getting the Proteas back on track cannot be any less of a priority.

The one thing that is certain is that Faf du Plessis will remain at the helm. In fact, right now he should be in charge of all three disciplines.

As captain it is his duty to forge a strong relationship with the new coach and together plot the way forward that will put a stop to the decline that we have seen over the last few months. Du Plessis is one of the few players who are still in a strong position within the team and he will hopefully use this fact to bring about change.

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