Whoever the new South African cricket coach will be after the current tour of England, will inherit a massive responsibility to lead the Proteas into a new era which will include success in major ICC tournaments and regaining the number 1 Test cricket ranking.
Now forget about the bigotry and bile spewed by cricket legends like Graeme Pollock and Daryll Cullinan that transformation is the cause of indifferent performances by our cricket team and various other national sides. Forget the nonsense that cricket is “inherently, not a black man’s sport” or that the Proteas will be a “middle of the road” team because of the honouring of racial transformation targets, those views are and will always be nonsensical and devoid of any truth.
In a rigorous professional sporting era, the pressures to perform and perform consistently are ever increasing, while public scrutiny is an element that sportsmen and women must deal with daily. The Proteas have historically never lacked in both talent and skill when you pit them against their fiercest rivals, they have always matched or even been superior in this regard.
The famous sides that have fallen short at global events in yesteryears have all been laden with incredible talent and skill but have never been the most mentally strong sides, a trend that has continued for years since that horrible mix up between Allan Donald and Lance Klusener in the 1999 world cup. In all the Proteas’ short comings in the past, the biggest common denominator has been the inability to handle the big pressure moments better than the opposition.
One of the most successful sports teams in recent history, the New Zealand All Blacks are a prime example of a professional team who has the mental edge over their opponents on most occasions. They credit most of the mental work to mental skills coach Gilbert Enoch who ensures that the players’ mental process is looked after, to perform well in pressure situations and inevitably win.
The Proteas haven’t deployed a person in that role since former England cricketer, and Sports Phycologist Jeremy Snape in 2009. During that time Snape worked with the Proteas in the mental conditioning aspect of the game which, in cricket, is still much a rarity.
Whoever the next Proteas cricket coach incumbent will be, there is an urgent need to utilize a mental skills coach to give the Proteas a mental edge in major ICC tournaments.
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Written for The Pundits by @psixaba