There are rumblings within the South African cricket community suggesting that Kepler Wessels may be installed as the new manager of the national cricket team. In a board meeting last week, held to access the performance of those at the helm of the World Cup team, it was confirmed that both coach Mickey Arthur and captain Graeme Smith would be retained for a further two years. The meeting also outlined the need for the team to create a new role within the set up for a team manager.
There have long been suggestions that there is a clique of players within the South African team who have had a to big influence on the team, having shown a distinct lack of maturity and have had an adverse affect on team discipline. This has been seen as partly to blame for the rumours of team moral taking a hit, as well as the belief that the psychological strength within the team is not strong enough to beat Australia or to win the big games, such as the World Cup semi final loss.
The appointment of Wessels, should it happen, would serve to reign in the disruptive force within the set up, ensure a greater level of team discipline, as well as serve to increase the mindset of the players by increasing their mental strength. While Wessels has had problems with members high up in the South African Cricket Board, it is believed that those fences have been mended, and that his appointment would have the backing of all. Wessels, who captained South Africa from 1992 until his retirement in ’94, where Hansie Cronje took over, has been fairly outspoken of issues within South African cricket, and has been particularly critical of their performances against Australia. It remains to be seen whether a working relationship between him and Smith would be successful. However it has been suggested that Smith having to much influence and power within the team was one of the principle reasons put forward when addressing the needs for a team manager.
Wessels is a strong character, who has played for both Australia and South Africa, and may be the tough, no nonsense, figure that South Africa needs in its set up, as they rebuild after the World Cup. Before any announcement is made Wessels will lead a South African emerging players team to Australia where they will compete against similar teams from Australia, New Zealand and India. This role may be an indication of the trust that the UCB now has in Wessels, and should he prove successful the managers job may be his on his return.