These are challenging times for the South African cricket team. With some of its top players hanging up their boots after the World Cup, the side is in a phase of transition. But Cricket South Africa’s acting Director of Cricket, Corrie van Zyl, believes with a talented bunch of cricketers around, this phase, too, shall pass quickly.
“We believe we have already got a core of good young players and we do believe that we have some really good young players coming through, but they need experience,” the 58-year-old Van Zyl, who played in two ODIs for South Africa, says.
In a chat with Sportstar at the team hotel on Friday evening, he spoke on the future of South African cricket, Kolpak deal and more…
South African cricket has seen quite a few senior cricketers hanging up their boots after the World Cup. What is Cricket South Africa’s target to ensure that the supply line is ready?
We have been working on the supply line for a long time. It was not a surprise that some of our senior players stopped playing after the World Cup. Therefore, we were planning and making sure that there were players available. One thing we knew after the World Cup that the core — the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock, Dane Piedt, Keshav Maharaj — were younger players. It is not easy to replace players such as Hashim Amla, J.P. Duminy and Dale Steyn. We must remember that Amla has played for many years, so has Steyn. Sometimes we look at the end product and think that’s where the product started, but most of those players had started where the younger players are now. We believe we have got a core of good young players but they need experience. That’s a phase South African cricket needs to go through but we also need that to happen quickly. When players come into the national team, we have got to be sure that they are performing. It is important for South Africa to be one of the top teams in the world.
Looking ahead, what should the new guys keep in mind?
This is an area of the team director and player development. I am looking at the the next generation of players, do we have the right coaches and so on. In terms of what the next group of players need, that is for the team director to decide and that’s why we have appointed him. He has been very good, he has proven himself. That’s gonna be his job.
In the recent past, a lot of international cricketers have signed the Kolpak deal and have moved out of the South African cricketing system. Did CSA formulate policies to address this issue?
We have obviously looked at Kolpak for a number of years and we have a couple of top policies to try and combat the move. But at the end of the day, it is still the decision of the player and what’s really important is to understand that the lure of exchange rate, I suppose, is an important (aspect) for the players. For us, the important part is how do we keep our best players in South Africa. We put some measures. Some measures are meant to detract or discourage players from taking up Kolpak.
What are those measures?
We are making sure that we provide longer contracts for players. We have certain processes in place for that. Players want security and part of security lies in knowing what’s happening in my career. So, we have started a Personal Development Plan, so that we have early discussions with players and tell them where they are in this team and the production line. So that the players don’t feel insecure. They can make the right decision that way. Having said that, you can do all of those things, but the decision still lies on the player. There is nothing that Cricket South Africa can do from a legislation point of view to prevent a player from signing up for Kolpak. That can’t happen.
At a time when the team is in a transition phase, do you plan to involve former cricketers in the coaching set-up?
We have always used coaches from home. Ottis Gibson is one of the first coaches we got from abroad. We also brought in Amol (Muzumdar) as the batting coach for the Test series against India because of the dealings some of our players have had with him. There is a lot of respect for his knowledge. It’s an interim phase. It’s an opportunity for us to get someone who understands the conditions. But we have always looked at South African coaches. They understand the South African way, but it’s also good to look at coaches from outside sometimes, to get a different opinion. In fact, Lance Klusener is someone we approached, we have approached some of the other coaches as well. Not everybody is always available, some of them have other priorities. We have very good coaches in our country, and we will continue to look at any coach who can take the team forward. It is not necessary to go outside the country.
Both Enoch Nkwe and Amol Muzumdar are interim coaches. Now with a packed season coming up, is Cricket South Africa considering them for a longer term?
Any interim structure is not ideal. With an interim structure comes a lot of insecurity. The moment you can get a permanent coach, it’s better. So, CSA is definitely looking to make sure that these roles are addressed as soon as possible, obviously our plan is to get that done before the England series in South Africa. It just makes sense to get out of the interim phase.
Does that mean the two will be given a longer rope?
At the end of the day, I don’t know what you mean by the longer rope. In terms of permanency, it’s up to the CEO to decide. That process is being take care of at the moment. As I said, we just want to get that process done as soon as possible.
With the international calender becoming more hectic, most of the cricket boards are getting stricter in terms of allowing their players to overseas T20 leagues...
We have a No Objection Certificate process. I think India is the only country that don’t allow any of its players to feature in any other leagues. That doesn’t apply to any other countries. We have players who want to play in leagues. But we do have an NOC, we still have the authority to say, ‘You can or you can’t go and play’. It means that in our process of NOC, we have to go through process like workload management, itinerary and all of that. So, we are just going to make sure that our NOC process is a due and a prudent process.
What’s the CSA doing about anti-doping and anti-corruption policies?
Those are same as the ICC policies. We have our own structure, our own personnel in terms of anti-doping and anti-corruption. In domestic matches, especially the ones that are televised, we have a strong anti-corruption policy and structure. Every piece of anti-corruption measures you see at the international level is also brought down at the domestic level.
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