On February 1, Shukri Conrad and Rob Walter will start their respective roles as South Africa’s red and white-ball coaches. A temporary solution will be found for the World Cup Super League ODIs against England later this month.
Conrad and Walter were chosen over interim coach Malibongwe Maketa, former West Indies director of cricket Richard Pybus, former national assistant coach Adrian Birrell (who applied only for the Test role), and Lance Klusener (who last week withdrew his interest in the white-ball position) on a shortlist that also included those candidates. In order to win the ODI World Cup at home in 2027 and advance to a World Test Championship (WTC) final during that time, Conrad and Walter have been hired on four-year contracts.
It’s a significant objective and a significant turning point for our nation. It must be won. Enoch Nkwe, the director of cricket for the CSA, stated that all investments, efforts, and attention will be directed at 2027. Along the road, there are chances for us to create better processes that will offer us the best opportunity. We have opportunities in Test Championships, Champions Trophies, and T20 World Cups, but the 2027 World Cup is our main priority.
Prior to there, South Africa still has a lot to accomplish, starting with qualifying for the 2023 ODI World Cup. They sacrificed games in Australia so that the best players would be available for the first SA20 league, but they are still outside the top eight and have only five matches left. To avoid having to fly to Zimbabwe for the qualifiers in June, South Africa must triumph in at least three of the five games.
Although it is thought that the CSA leadership views qualification for the 2023 World Cup as a non-negotiable goal, they will not put additional demands or performance standards on the new coaching staff while they are competing. We won’t evaluate them just based on the 2023 World Cup. We are aware of what happened prior to that, and we aggravated our path to the 2023 World Cup, Nkwe stated. We want to make sure we can compete there, but that is not how they will be evaluated.
As an alternative, Nkwe suggested two parallel ideas for the national white-ball teams. The immediate needs for the next eight months will be covered by one plan, and our white-ball team’s medium- to long-term goals will be covered by the second. We’re going to lose some huge names along the way. Some well-known figures might not live to see 2027. As DOC, I don’t want to be in a situation where we are unable to go forward 18 months before the World Cup because we haven’t developed the necessary depth for 2027.
A shrinking Test schedule and the extreme focus on shorter forms coincide with the CSA packing venues for the SA20, the first significant cricket tournament to take place in the nation after Covid-19 limitations were relaxed. With only three more Tests left to play this year, South Africa is all but eliminated from contention for the WTC championship, but CSA CEO Pholetsi Moseki emphasized the importance of remaining committed to the longest format.
The importance of Test cricket will always be emphasized, according to Moseki. Over the following four years, we will add a handful of Test matches. We take the Test format very seriously and are serious about becoming a nation that plays the game. We still consider ourselves to be a very serious Test-playing nation, and we haven’t consigned it to the sidelines because of T20. To restore our Test team to the standards we demand of them, we want to make an investment.
Conrad would play a significant role in Nkwe’s plan to develop South Africa’s Test player base over the course of the next 12 to 24 months so that they can compete for the WTC finals in 2025 and 2027. Even if it takes us another three or four years to reach No. 1, Nkwe remarked, we want to be among the top three. We are strengthening our position and expanding our player pool over the next two years. At the upcoming round of meetings for personal development plans next month, conversations about the priorities of the players will be a part of the process. For the first time, CSA is willing to solely contract players in certain formats, should it turn out to be a preference. Nkwe stated that we are collaborating with the South African Cricketers’ Association.
I need to comprehend how the coaches view leadership. We need to give them a chance to discuss their future plans with the two captains over a meal. According to Nkwe, it will be crucial that we give our decisions today our whole attention throughout the ensuing two years. We agree to it if the captains are confident that they can contribute for the following two years and assist with the transition and rebuilding process. To make sure we are all together and we develop that stability, we will be having some very intriguing dialogues over the coming several months. We don’t want things to keep getting chopped and changed.
Plotting a succession strategy for Elgar and Bavuma, who are 35 and 32, respectively, would also involve Conrad and Walter. In actuality, neither of these two captains will continue to serve as captains for the ensuing five years. We must decide who the next two captains will be and how much time we will allow them to prove themselves, Nkwe remarked. These are some of the difficult discussions we will have over the upcoming month to ensure clarity. Although we don’t intend to fire anyone, we must establish stability over the next month or three months so that by the time the season is done, everything will be crystal obvious.
The coaches will also choose their own support staff; it’s unlikely that any of the current crops will be included, but the backroom will have a full-time performance coach, as Nkwe put it. While it was unknown whether current batting coach Justin Sammons or fielding coach Justin Ontong would be retained, Nkwe announced that current bowling coach Charl Langeveldt would be leaving to accept a position at the IPL.
Additionally absent from South African cricket will be Neil McKenzie, who last week announced his resignation from his position as high-performance batting lead, which involves managing hitters from the youth teams to the national team. Maketa, who served as South Africa’s temporary head coach during their Test tour of Australia, was anticipated to return to the South Africa A team and will discuss his future with Nkwe later this week.