But according to cricket director Enoch Nkwe, the team would be focused on “pressing the reset button and not focusing on the past.”
The national men’s team’s performance in the T20 World Cup, when they were eliminated at the group stage after a shocking loss to the Netherlands, will be reviewed by Cricket South Africa, but they will also be urged to move on fast from yet another huge setback.
“It is important that we review what has happened. We are in the process of putting a panel together to ensure the review is very clinical,” Enoch Nkwe, South Africa’s director of cricket (DOC), said after the team’s arrival from Australia. “But the focus is hitting the reset button and not dwelling on the past. It’s important that we close a chapter and look at what lies ahead.”
Nkwe, who took over as DOC in July after assisting Mark Boucher as his assistant coach, has already appointed Malibongwe Maketa as South Africa’s interim coach ahead of a three-Test series in Australia and will shortly start the hiring process for Boucher’s permanent replacement. With one year remaining on his contract, Boucher quit his position to join the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Since white-ball captain Temba Bavuma has yet to decide on his future, all signs point to no sudden changes to South Africa’s organizational structure.
After South Africa’s loss on Sunday, Bavuma declared he would not be influenced by the feelings of the moment. He claimed that he was still processing events three days later.
“The emotions are not as raw, but in terms of the disappointment and the disbelief, that’s still there,” Bavuma said. “It’s going to take me a couple of days.”
Before a decision is made regarding when the players will return to action, the entire squad will be given some time off over the coming days, even though the first round of domestic first-class matches begins on Thursday (each team only plays seven games and there are only three rounds before the Tests in Australia). They will primarily be in the Test team, which is currently second in the World Test Championship (WTC) point’s standings. Their performance in the Test series in Australia will be essential in determining if they will have a chance at the WTC final in June, at which point South Africa, who is currently ranked 11th on that table, may also wind up competing in the 50-over World Cup Qualifier.
Nkwe has first-hand experience with the difficulties of South Africa’s last three years—since former CEO Thabang Moroe decided to restructure the coaching system and install a team director who was then quickly replaced by a coach, Boucher. He served as Boucher’s team director for almost two years before resigning, claiming issues with the club’s culture. He was the interim team director during a catastrophic tour to India in 2019. Following Boucher’s departure, he replaced Graeme Smith as the DOC upon his return in an overseeing capacity.
If you think it sounds chaotic, then picture what it was like to be a part of it, as Nkwe attested.
“As a system, we have gone through a lot,” he said. “We went through a bit of a turmoil.”
When asked if he believed the squad had been harmed by the whole of the off-field incidents (the aforementioned example is simply a small sample), Nkwe responded that he would not use it as a justification.
“One thing I have been proud of this team over the last couple of years is that they’ve been able to go on the park and compete and try and win games,” he said. “They’ve been able to close off all the noise and whatever is happening off the field. Somehow, we found a way to get to a point where we remain competitive. I believe the team has come through that very well.”
He acknowledged that the World Cup exit was “disappointing,” and that someone had to bear responsibility—possibly the CSA. Nkwe declared, “We would always take full responsibility.”Whether the team loses or wins, we are always going to be supporting the team and asking ourselves questions about what more we can do,” said one employee. “When the results are poor, there will be fingers pointed at the organization in terms of what has happened in the past and whether there was enough support.”
It is reasonable to presume that no one truly knows the solutions given that they have never won a World Cup, but Nkwe has made it obvious that he intends to look for them. In order to ensure that cricket is in a positive, healthy environment, he stated,
“There is a culture we are driving within.” We are now at a point where we can make a difference, and that will be our focus. There are so many opportunities as an organization to change it all. I hope that next year we can be in a different position celebrating our team winning a World Cup. “There’s a lot of work behind the scenes, and what we are all working towards is getting our national teams to reach No. 1 and win World Cups,” the speaker said.