Will Enoch Nkwe be in charge for England series? It depends ...
Cricket SA’s communication with the media has deteriorated into ambiguity, obfuscation and unhelpfulness
It is a rare day when sense prevails in SA cricket, but that seemed to be the case on Thursday when AFP reported that Enoch Nkwe and his support staff had been retained for the men’s Test series against England.
Amid all the uncertainty that besets the game — who, for instance, will pick the squad for that rubber, what with no selectors appointed? — at least the players know who their coach is.
Nkwe’s team did not get much right in crashing 3-0 to India in October, but it would not be fair to dump the interim team director on the strength of a poor display by a side who were still smarting from their shambolic World Cup campaign — in which he played no part.
But the nugget of surety of Nkwe’s retention, modest though it was, lasted only as long as it took to try to confirm the story with Cricket SA (CSA) spokesperson Thamie Mthembu.
“The article contains deliberate inaccuracies,” Mthembu told Business Day.
Did that mean Nkwe and his assistants had been confirmed as the people in possession for the England series or not?
“Cricket SA will issue a statement in relation to all matters pertaining to the forthcoming England tour,” Mthembu said. “We will advise you once the statement is issued.”
AFP had quoted Mthembu as saying: “There is no way we will go into an important series against England without having our ducks in a row.”
The conversation seems to have veered towards Cricket SA having not appointed a director of cricket, as it has said it wanted to have done by now.
“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,” Mthembu was quoted as saying. “Enoch Nkwe and all the other members of his team remain in place, all except Corrie van Zyl.”
Van Zyl was the interim director of cricket until he was suspended in October, along with sponsorship and sales manager Clive Eksteen and COO Naasei Appiah.
“When you suspend someone of a high level, lawyers become involved and it has to be a thorough process.”
All good, except that AFP reported that Mthembu had “confirmed that Nkwe remained in charge of the national team”, but did not quote him as saying so.
That’s not to cast suspicion on the respected agency’s story, not least because in recent weeks Cricket SA’s communication with the media has deteriorated into ambiguity, obfuscation and unhelpfulness.
Getting straight answers to straight questions has become as difficult as pulling teeth. From a duck. Underwater. Using tweezers.
Instead of being answered, reporters have been asked why they are asking particular questions, told they are refusing to engage when they ask their questions — and do not get answers — more than once, and accused of being part of an “unfairly co-ordinated attack” on Cricket SA.
But in this case the vague, bumptious and often illogically defensive Mthembu may have a point.
Perhaps he was trying to say that, right now, Nkwe and his crew are still in their roles — that Cricket SA would not be so careless as to leave their vital positions vacant with the home summer looming.
Maybe Mthembu was also trying to say that, while the buck stopped with Nkwe currently, that could change before the England rubber.
But who really knows.
With Cricket SA these days, there are exponentially more questions than answers. And what answers there are often do not make sense.
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