Cricket South Africa satisfied with no-selectors trial

  • By Kate Nokwe

  • 27th September 2023

Cricket South Africa satisfied with no-selectors trial

Cricket South Africa's director of cricket, Enoch Nkwe, says the trial run of simplifying the Proteas' selection procedure has gone well so far.

With the hiring of coaches Shukri Conrad and Rob Walter in February, CSA opted to do away with selectors entirely, leaving the responsibility of playing and travelling squads purely to the coach and captain of each format.

Conrad began the trial during the West Indies’ inbound tour, when SA won the Test series, drew the One-Day International, and lost the T20s, culminating in Walter's 15-man squad for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup next month.

"You speak of accountability, coaches you're making that decision so account to your team. The captain, yes, plays a huge role," Nkwe told SABC Sport.

"So, coach and captain need to have a strong relationship and they need to answer and sort of build a support structure."

Notably, England introduced a similar structure in 2021, only to abolish it in the aftermath of the Ashes defeat in 2022.

"It's part of the change in our system. It's something that is sort of like not normal. A lot of people in our system, so we are sort of getting a feel but so far, it's going well,” Nkwe added. 

In the past, the Proteas were embroiled in selection scandals – notably, former captain AB de Villiers allegedly influenced Khaya Zondo's non-selection for the 2015 India tour, while in-form Kyle Abbott's exclusion over Vernon Philander in a World Cup semi-final the same year underlined South Africa's unique selection policies.

Nkwe says such incidents influenced this trial, where accountability will be easy to trace.

"What also brought us to this decision was our key learning from the past, where probably to an extent, maybe. There was passing of the buck and nobody taking responsibility and I think generally it creates a lot of confusion with the players as well," he noted.

"Who do you speak to? Who do you go to? Yes, we have a convenor [of selectors], we have a head coach, but the reality is that the man in the environment is a coach and who's the better person to actually give you a better plan on how to come back into the team or how to keep your position in the team, and how you can impact the team?" 

The former Lions mentor further confirmed they will evaluate this annually, but he is certain this is the best way forward to, not only restore confidence in change rooms but to empower coaches.

"I strongly believe in it so much because at a domestic review already there were lots of discussions," he added.

"We want to put coaches in a very strong position to drive the environment and make decisions and be part of that process is to prepare our coaches for hot seats, if I may put it that way in the future, and feel the confidence to make big calls.

"I believe that players already back that moving forward and start to almost trust the selection process."

CSA will, in time, do the same in the women’s national team. But are waiting till a new coach is appointed before implementing such changes.

"With the women, because we are still in the transition, we're still giving them that sort of support but in time we also gonna mirror the tree," concluded the boss.

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