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South Africa needed a ‘hardened, experienced international guy’ – Graeme Smith on Mark Boucher



Graeme Smith, South Africa’s acting director of cricket, has chosen “hardened, experienced” former team-mate Mark Boucher as coach of the men’s national side until the 2023 World Cup. Enoch Nkwe, the interim team director (a term that has now been scrapped), has been appointed Boucher’s assistant for the same period while former convenor of selectors Linda Zondi has been brought back until April 2020 and Ashwell Prince will coach the South African A side.

Boucher, Zondi, Nkwe and Test captain Faf du Plessis make up the selection panel for now, whose first task is to choose the squad that will face England in a home series starting on Boxing Day. The squad for the first two Tests will be announced on Monday, before the Mzansi Super League final. A batting and bowling consultant will also be finalised in the coming week.

The radical changes to the South African national structure were made in the last four days after Smith accepted the director of cricket position in a temporary capacity on Wednesday. Smith has signed a three-month contract after which he has a commentary stint at the Indian Premier League and confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he would then consider a more permanent deal with CSA.

Smith’s appointment comes after more than three months of negotiation, during which time he withdrew his interest before being re-engaged following the suspension of CSA CEO Thabang Moroe. While Smith confirmed he still has “no relationship,” with the under-pressure CSA Board, he explained that the changes in the CSA executive administration played a major part in his accepting the role.

“I didn’t have a lot of confidence in the leadership of CSA,” Smith said. “With such an extensive job description, I didn’t feel I could achieve in the role with the leadership that was there at the time. You need a robust CSA to be able to challenge each other, you need trust and you need to have an environment that was ready for that, and I didn’t feel the environment was ready before I took this job.

“If I am going to come in, I want to be able to do the best that I can do. I feel that is slightly better now. The opportunity is there. I have got a lot of confidence in Jacques [Faul] as the CEO.”

“I am very aware of transformation. I led my the country for 11 years and I had to be very much a part of managing those processes.”

Graeme Smith

Faul has also been appointed in an interim capacity for the next six months while Moroe undergoes a disciplinary process. With Smith making clear his allegiance, it would appear his future involvement with CSA is tied to Faul’s and will be decided as the summer ends. Similarly, the position of Zondi, whose short-term contract was a result of what Smith called “a budget thing”, will also be up for discussion when the 2019-20 season is over.

However, the positions of Boucher and Nkwe are confirmed until after the 2023 World Cup, a decision that aims to provide both expertise and continuity for the national side. “I felt at this stage, the Proteas needed a really hardened, experienced international guy,” Smith said. “I feel that Mark, from a cricket perspective, is very knowledgeable. He is tactically very knowledgeable. We all know what qualities he has as a man as well. I felt those were the decisions best needed for the current Proteas set up.”

Smith indicated the long-term plan would be to prepare Nkwe to take over from Boucher in the future. “We have had a couple of chats with Enoch in terms of his pathway going forward and developing him as a high-standing international coach. We feel he has got a lot of qualities that will be very useful to Mark and that will help him progress in international cricket.”

Asked whether the demotion of Nkwe, South Africa’s first black African coach, and the appointment of Boucher above him could be seen as a whitewash, Smith disagreed. “My job is to create cricket excellence. I feel I have made the right decision for the Proteas. I think for Enoch’s future as well it is the right appointment. We need to think about managing people sometimes and not just a number,” Smith said. “I am very aware of transformation. I led my the country for 11 years and I had to be very much a part of managing those processes. A number of discussions need to happen behind the scenes but I disagree with the statement [that it’s a whitewash].”

Smith is also still in discussions with CSA around the transformation targets and the policy going forward but for now wants to focus on getting the South Africa team back on stable ground following a rocky 2019. South Africa lost five successive Tests, including a home series in Sri Lanka and a 0-3 defeat in India, where Smith indicated off-field problems appeared to bleed onto the field. “The disappointing thing has been how South African cricket has been run of late. That has been the most challenging aspect. That’s filtered into the environment and made life difficult for the guys that have been in that position. Hopefully in the short term we can turn it around.”

For Smith, it is key to “bring leadership back into the game”, which can be provided by former internationals. Smith singled out Prince’s involvement with the A side as particularly important. “I am very happy that we have Ashwell involved. He has got a lot of international experience, he is a hardened international cricketer. He is full of opinions which we love,” Smith said. “The A side needs to be the second-best men’s team in the country.”

If Smith takes on the role post the IPL next year, his job will include developing a strategy that will include the A side, looking at the domestic structures, the Under-19 side, the women’s game, and even cricket at grassroots level. For now, Smith’s sole focus is the national men’s team and the England series and creating the blueprint that will put South Africa on a path to success.

“We want the Proteas to play well and start winning again. Faf is happy that there is a bit of leadership around. Both him and Enoch have had very frustrating times over the last period. There has been almost no communication with them [from CSA] for a lengthy period of time. I’m glad we were able to come in and provide some direction for them,” Smith said. “Hopefully we can take away some of the drama from them and Faf and the team that is selected can focus on playing cricket and doing the job well. That’s what’s expected of them. It’s going to be our responsibility to clean up the rest.”

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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Kent South Group 2020



Kent 183 for 2 (Crawley 108*) beat Hampshire 182 for 6 (Fuller 50*, Vince 48) by eight wickets

Zak Crawley continued his love affair with the Ageas Bowl as he smashed his maiden Vitality Blast century to propel Kent to victory over Hampshire.

England star Crawley notched a Test 256 last month at the ground and sustained his fine form with an outrageous unbeaten 108. His 14 fours and two sixes saw Kent return to winning ways with an eight-wicket win, as they chased down an imposing 182 with 17 balls to spare.

Along with his England feats, Crawley had scored a Bob Willis Trophy century against Hampshire at Canterbury last week, partnered with 196 in his six previous Blast innings.

Those factors equalled an inevitable flurry of runs, but the manner of his century was jaw-dropping.

He showed his intent by drilling Shaheen Shah Afridi through the covers off his first delivery and barely slowed down.

Daniel Bell Drummond contributed 12 before he was caught at short third man, but Crawley hardly blinked as he hit Chris Wood for a four and six off the start of the next over. His half-century arrived in only 26 balls, with a boundary through mid-wicket – his seventh four.

Crawley peppered boundaries to every angle of the ground, with his wagon-wheel leaving very few blank spaces.

A stunning cover drive and six off his legs off Afridi rockets mesmerised before his hundred, the ninth in Kent T20 history, was brought up with a sweep in 48 balls.

Joe Denly simply ticked along at the other end as the duo put on 121 before the all-rounder picked out long-on.

Heino Kuhn came in to waltz Kent over the line with 19 not out, but it was Crawley who led his side off to rapturous applause from his team-mates.

ALSO READ: Bell-Drummond: ‘T20 is moving forward, I don’t want to be left behind’

Hampshire won’t have felt like they had bowled too badly, and would have been happy at the halfway point after James Vince‘s 48 and James Fuller‘s half-century.

Vince had failed in his two appearances since returning from the birth of his second child, but despite initially struggling to time the ball he quickly looked back to his free-flowing best.

He lost opening partner Tom Alsop, stumped to the fourth ball of the match, but quickly rebuilt with Sam Northeast – the pair putting on 82 for the second wicket.

Both targeted the short boundary on the Nursery Ground side, although Vince gained a life on 21 when he was spilt by Denly at deep cover.

Northeast pumped a full toss for a square maximum but departed for a 28-ball 34 when he was caught at long-on.

Vince fell reverse sweeping Imran Qayyum straight to short third man, before Joe Weatherley upped the run-rate again with a quick-fire 17 – which included an audacious switch hit into the stands.

Hampshire looked on course for a good score, but Fuller and Lewis McManus made sure they set a very competitive total.

Fuller waited just four balls before he swung down the ground for a six, but it was Matt Milnes’ 19th over that sent his strike-rate into the stratosphere.

Two fours were quickly followed by back-to-back monsters into the Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie Stand as the penultimate over went for 23.

McManus was run out on 15 from six balls after a 47-run stand and Ian Holland was caught and bowled first ball, but Fuller brought up his 23-ball fifty with a six to the long side of the ground off the final ball of the innings. Crawley, however, made mincemeat of the chase.

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Incumbent Linda Zondi not on shortlist to be South Africa’s convener of selectors



Linda Zondi will not be considered for South Africa’s convener of selectors position, after failing to be shortlisted for the post despite being the incumbent. ESPNcricinfo understands that Victor Mpitsang, Hussein Manack and Patrick Moroney were interviewed last week with Mpitsang the frontrunner to get the job.

The post, which has been vacant since Zondi’s contract ended after the 2019 World Cup, has been significantly revamped and is now a full-time role. The convener will no longer only select the men’s national team but will also be responsible for selecting the women’s side, the A team, the under-19 team and will oversee the scouting and selection program in consultation with the director of cricket (DOC) Graeme Smith. Earlier this month, Smith spoke about the importance of the position.

“The convenor of selectors is a key person in CSA. It’s a job that comes with a lot of pressure from all fronts,” he said. “The role definition is slightly changed. We’ve shifted it to not only being a national team convener but to controlling the whole pipeline, which speaks to our high-performance strategy. We feel it’s important to create the avenues of communication — the way we play, the way we select, the way we think, the way we operate, the type of people we want involved in that environment is key. We’ve aligned the convenor of selectors right through the pipeline. He’ll be overseeing everything. The convenor now is a much more extensive job. The convenor of selectors working on the whole system and owning the whole system, and being part of all the processes, is key.”

For that reason, an extensive list of criteria was laid out for applicants to the post including a minimum of five years experience as a selector and a qualification in sports management. Zondi, who has been a selector for 13 years and holds a diploma in sports management, was told he did not meet the requirements to be shortlisted. Cricket South Africa was asked for comment on Zondi’s exclusion but, at the time of writing, had yet to respond. It is also unclear when the new convener will be unveiled but ESPNcricinfo expects it imminently.

Mpitsang, who is understood to be the preferred choice, convened the selection panel for the under-19 team that participated in this year’s World Cup and placed eighth. He has also worked as a commentator for pay-television channel SuperSport . He is also the only black African candidate on the shortlist and although CSA’s affirmative action policy does not extend to full-time employees (only consultants), having Mpitsang on the staff is likely to be met with approval from CSA’s transformation policy.

Still, Mpitsang does have competition. Manack and Moroney both impressed the interview panel. Manack served as a selector under Zondi and also applied for the DOC position but lost out to Smith. Moroney was being considered under the former CEO Thabang Moroe’s regime and convened the selection panel for the Jozi Stars, the team that won the inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL).

In contrast, Zondi, who will no longer be involved, has a history of selection that stretches back almost two decades. He worked within the structures at the Kwa-Zulu Natal province and Dolphins franchise, as a national women’s selector between 2007 and 2009, as national men’s team selector between 2013 to 2015, during which time he also selected the under-19 squad that won the 2014 World Cup, and as convener of selectors between 2015 and 2019. During that time, Zondi’s picks including the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Rassie van der Dussen have thrived and he was also involved with Quinton de Kock’s elevation to white-ball captain. He was then reappointed as an “independent selector,” when the national men’s team management was overhauled last December, on a short-term contract which ended in April.

Among the new convener’s most pressing early task will be to appoint a new men’s Test captain, even though there is no indication of when the national team will be in action again.

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PCB announces Justice Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan as independent adjudicator in Saleem Malik sting



An ongoing case involving Saleem Malik concerning the contents of a conversation about fixing cricket matches from April 2000 will now be heard by an independent adjudicator. Malik filed an appeal after the PCB, in July, termed his response concerning the conversation – conducted as part of a sting operation by the now-defunct English tabloid News of the World“unsatisfactory and irrelevant”. The independent adjudicator is Justice Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan, who, most recently, also oversaw the case of Umar Akmal.

The PCB said in a release that they felt Malik had “failed to respond till date” to the issue concerning the transcripts 20 years ago. After the Qayyum report was released in 2000 – in which Malik was banned for life – the tabloid released a video in which Malik was allegedly caught offering to potentially corrupt players and games in exchange for money.

The reporter involved in that sting – Mazher Mahmood – was also behind the 2010 Lord’s spot-fixing operation. The revelations and allegations arising from the sting were not part of the Justice Qayyum inquiry; that inquiry took place in the year before this story and the report was published days before the sting.

Over the past few months, Malik has sought to move on from the match-fixing allegations and the subsequent life ban that tarnished his career. There appeared to be momentum in terms of calls to reintegrate the former Pakistan captain into the fold in some capacity, with prominent names like Saqlain Mushtaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq voicing support. The PCB, however, remain adamant the matter concerning the sting operation must be resolved satisfactorily before any such reintegration can happen.

Malik’s statement, submitted in June, was deemed by the PCB to be irrelevant to the issue at hand. “In the backdrop of the above, the PCB will be unable to proceed any further until such time you respond on the said matter,” the board had said at the time.

Malik’s cricketing career and reputation was ultimately sullied by match-fixing scandals. In a judicial inquiry that began in 1998 and continued for 13 months, he was found guilty of bribing Australian cricketers Shane Warne and Mark Waugh to lose the 1994-95 Karachi Test. Malik was fined Rs 1 million and banned for life in 2000, but eight years later his sentence was overturned by a Lahore sessions court, allowing him theoretically to return to the fold. However, this case makes clear little progress has been made between the two parties since Malik began his latest attempt to completely rehabilitate himself.

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