Interim team director Enoch Nkwe. Picture: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE / AFP
Interim team director Enoch Nkwe. Picture: CHRISTIAAN KOTZE / AFP

London — There was more to learn from the questions asked of Enoch Nkwe at the first media conference of SA’s tour of India on Tuesday than there was from his answers.

And not because of any fault of the articulate‚ affable Nkwe, the interim team director of the Proteas’ series of three T20s and as many Tests.

Quinton de Kock‚ who will captain in the T20s in Faf du Plessis’s absence‚ sat alongside Nkwe in Dharamshala‚ where the first T20 will be played on Sunday.

SA’s media officer asked for questions to be directed at Nkwe first‚ but after several seconds of silence a reporter began with‚ “De Kock…”

The media officer set him straight smartly‚ and after more silence Nkwe was asked to rate SA’s chances of success at 2020’s T20 World Cup.

It is difficult to avoid the view that Nkwe was at best disregarded and at worst disrespected

Then whether his team were good enough to win in India.

Then how they would manage without Du Plessis.

And then what SA’s strategy for Sunday might be.

Nkwe might have replied that the World Cup was not his problem considering that‚ at this stage‚ his involvement in the team will end after the India tour.

And that he would not have taken the job if he didn’t think he could win in India or anywhere else.

And that Du Plessis‚ fine player and leader though he is‚ is only one player and leader.

And that he is not dumb enough to reveal his game plan.

But Nkwe has better manners than that.

So the edited highlights of what he said were: “It’s the start of a new chapter‚ so the focus for now is on the coming series against India.

“We’re looking to invest in a good foundation going into the T20 World Cup.”

And: “Absolutely. We’re here to win.”

And‚ on the Du Plessis-shaped hole in the side: “I strongly believe we have a good enough squad.”

And his strategy?

Nkwe smiled and said: “We’re entertainers.”

De Kock was asked about the conditions and what he expected from his team. He has not played in Dharamshala before‚ so that was moot.

“Win or lose‚ I just want the guys to keep competing; keep fighting‚” De Kock said.

“We’ve got quite a young team — there’ll be a lot of energy.”

Both questions were neutral inquiries‚ not laced with the kind of suspicion slung at Nkwe.

It is dangerous to form an opinion on the basis of an audio file from a media conference held far from where this story is being written‚ but it is difficult to avoid the view that Nkwe was at best disregarded and at worst disrespected.

He is indeed a placeholder in his position — at least for now — and he has not had an international playing career‚ which earns coaches credit regardless of whether they deserve it.

But that does not mean Nkwe should be disregarded‚ much less disrespected.

In the wake of their disappointing performance at the World Cup‚ the South Africans would not have needed additional motivation to give a good account of themselves in India.

They have it now.