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Interim team director Nkwe to coach South Africa in England Tests amidst turbulence in CSA

Interim team director Nkwe to coach South Africa in England Tests amidst turbulence in CSA

South Africa cricket is in turbulence as on ad-hoc basis interim team director Enoch Nkwe has been entrusted with the responsibility of coaching the national team for the upcoming Test series against England, set to commence from December 26 with the first Test in Centurion.

Thamie Mthembu, Cricket South Africa (CSA) head of media and communications, has been in the firing line while defending haphazard preparation for the series and for delaying important appointments.

"There is no way we will go into an important series against England without having our ducks in a row," said Thamie.

Nkwe is a former first-class cricketer with no high-profile international coaching experience under his belt. He will be working for an unspecified time alongside the support staff who had to endure a demoralizing 3-0 drubbing handed to them by India last month.

However, the 36-year-old had a good stint as a franchise coach for Jozi Stars and has been engaged in coaching duties for several domestic sides over the years but the transition to national level caught many observers by surprise.

In addition, other pivotal positions comprising director of cricket, team director and convener are not yet filled after these new positions were announced in August. 

The rejigging of staff came after a shoddy performance of the Proteas side in the ICC ODI World Cup 2019 where they couldn't get past the round-robin stage. Thereafter, coach Ottis Gibson together with his staff was shown the door.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith was considered for the director of cricket post but the belligerent southpaw pulled out of contention because he was not sure he would have the autonomy and his say in all matters.

After Smith pulled out from the race, ex-international Corrie van Zyl was hired as an interim director of cricket and he also chaired the selection committee.

Also Read: Du Plessis insists 'clarity' over South Africa coaching appointments

Van has been interviewed for the permanent role but the hurdle in his selection could be his suspension since October 29 due to a conflict between CSA and the South Africa Cricketers' Association.

Confusion and uncertainty continue to brew as CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe said last week that he will share information regarding all the aforementioned pending appointments last week but there has been no update regarding the matter which in turn jeopardizes plans for the significant England series which will also be the part of ICC Test Championship.

Earlier, South Africa stalwart and skipper Faf du Plessis shared his concern regarding the ambiguity around the appointments and said: "The most important thing right now is clarity. Someone needs to make decisions, the director of cricket first and then filter down so everyone else can make decisions."

“What we do not want to do is to hurry and make an appointment and then be criticised if we do not appoint the right person," said Mthembu.

Mthembu did say emphatically that Nkwe will remain in office and oversee coaching responsibilities.

"Enoch Nkwe and all the other members of his team remain in place, all except Corrie van Zyl," said Mthembu, who is trying to resolve the disciplinary pending matter of Van Zyl.

"When you suspend someone of a high level lawyers become involved and it has to be a thorough process," he remarked.