Tough job for Enoch Nkwe first up as SA's interim team director

09 August 2019 - 12:11 By Telford Vice
Enoch Nkwe was appointed head coach of the SA senior men's cricket national team.
Enoch Nkwe was appointed head coach of the SA senior men's cricket national team.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Enoch Nkwe landed the most difficult job in cricket on Friday when he was appointed South Africa’s men’s team director for the tour to India next month.

Nkwe replaces Ottis Gibson‚ who was sacked as coach on Sunday‚ and manager Mohammed Moosajee‚ who stepped down last Thursday.

“It is a special moment for me and my family and I will do my best to make a difference in this interim period‚” Nkwe was quoted as saying in a Cricket South Africa (CSA) release.

CSA’s acting director of cricket‚ Corrie van Zyl‚ was quoted as saying: “His appointment is as a result of his merits and balanced approach and is someone who compliments the direction that will be taken by the team going forward.”

Nkwe holds a level four coaching qualification‚ and won the inaugural Mzansi Super League with the Jozi Stars last season.

He has guided Gauteng’s Strikers four-day and T20 teams‚ and their under-19 side‚ to trophies‚ and served as the Netherlands assistant coach.

But he’s in the big time now‚ and assignments don’t come tougher than a tour to India — where South Africa will play three T20s and as many Tests.

The white-ball games won’t matter much‚ but there will be intense focus on the Tests‚ which will mark South Africa’s first matches in the World Test Championship and India’s first at home.

The shadow of South Africa’s last Tests in India‚ in November and December 2015‚ will hang over the tour. India won 3-0 on some of most difficult pitches any South Africa team have yet batted on.

Nkwe is 36 — the same age as Dale Steyn‚ who retired from Test cricket this week‚ and Hashim Amla‚ who has ended his entire international career.

Steyn bowled only 11 overs in that 2015 series before injuring a shoulder and missing the rest of it‚ and Amla scored just 118 runs and averaged 16.85 in seven innings.

But it’s a measure of South Africa’s problems on that visit that only Dean Elgar and AB de Villiers scored more runs than Amla‚ and that only De Villiers — who has also since retired — faced more balls.

The upside for Nkwe is that there is little expectation on him to succeed‚ and so minimal pressure.

And who knows what a good performance in India will do for his chances of being appointed to a permanent position.

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