Thursday, June 9, 2011

South Africa: Turning Over A New Leaf?

After their World Cup relapse, South Africa would be looking to shun their past and renew their mindsets so as to welcome new opportunities and milestones in their future. That would include a complete makeover of the coaching staff as well as a new ODI captain. How will this fare for them in the long run?
To start off there is Gary Kirsten, who was once himself a Protea having played over a hundred Test matches and in that time managed to rack up 7,298 runs. However he is most renowned for his recent string of successes with the Indian national team, having guided them to being the No.1 Test nation and of course World Champions and No.2 on the ODI rankings in world cricket. Most recently, after his contract expired, he has signed a two-year contract with the Proteas as their batting coach and has a new wingman Russel Domingo as his assistant.
This is a huge privilege for South Africa as our batting could gain a lot from this. Although we have such talented and experienced players, not to mention AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla who currently possess 1st and 2nd position in the ICC ODI rankings, there is always room for improvement and it’s important that the top and middle order compliment one another under all circumstances.
On the other hand, there’s Allan Donald, who amongst the greats managed to achieve the milestone, during his days, of attaining over 300 Test wickets. Donald has recently joined Kirsten in the coaching staff as the head bowling coach. Prior to this, he was bowling coach to the Black Caps for the 2011 Cricket World Cup. The Kiwi bowlers performed outstandingly throughout the tournament and so all fingers crossed for what he has in store for the South African bowlers. During the World Cup, South Africa learnt to combine pace with spin and that was, and still is, one of our greatest strengths. To be honest, I wanted Cricket South Africa (CSA) to appoint him the position he holds today, so hopefully their quality bowling attack can be maintained and even improve further under his guidance.
South Africa also has a new ODI captain. After former captain Graeme Smith stepped down as head honcho, taking his place will be none other than AB de Villiers. He has the experience as well as the talent. I think he’ll make a great ODI captain so I am excited to see how everything pans out when SA plays their first ODI series at home, after the World Cup, against Australia.
If you look at it, the Proteas couldn’t have better coaches at this point. However, at the end of the day, it is what the team puts out that really brings home the trophy. Under the guidance of these new mentors, South Africa can hopefully put aside the painful woes of the past and start anew. The only real problem they’ve ever had was the psychological aftermath of high expectations not being met, and it is believed by many that the Proteas should now have the means or the ability to live up to what we all know they can achieve.
The big question is whether South Africa’s new coaching staff will be able to achieve what has been done with India? In my opinion, there is not really much more to say because the best is yet to come. The Proteas are yet to show the world that they mean business when they tackle the Aussies later this year. Until then we can only wait (and by wait I mean anxiously observe whether India can dethrone Australia in the ODI rankings because the action never ends in cricket!) and hope for the best.
Surekha Bhugeloo for DieHard Cricket Fans

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