During a press conference in East London this morning, attended by CSA head Gerald Majola, Mickey Arthur, Graeme Smith and Corrie van Zyl, it was confirmed that Arthur had tendered his resignation from the Protea’s and that CSA had reluctantly accepted. It was also confirmed that the entire selection panel had been fired, that Corrie van Zyl would take the team to India as an interim coach, and that a meeting would be held on the 19th of February to appoint a new selection panel and discuss the appointment of a new head coach.
Without going into any real details both Arthur and Majola confirmed that the reason for Arthurs resignation was a difference in the vision to take the team forward after a disappointing 2009. Structural changes are to be put into place next month, changes that Arthur did not agree with and lead to his resignation, days before the team is to tour India. What those structural changes are was not talked about. What was said was that Mickey runs a pretty tight ship and felt that the changes that were to be implemented would interfere with his way of running things. He said that their were different opinions on how to take the team forward, a vision to regain the number one spots in Test and ODI cricket and to win an ICC event, and that he felt he could not work within the new structural changes and that he was now not the man to lead the team, the best decision for both himself and the team would be for a fresh change in leadership.
Majola did mention that the players views were taken into consideration about the changes. While we wont know exactly what these changes entail until after the February 19 meeting, it does sound like there were to be changes in the way the team is to be coached. Perhaps they were looking at bringing in specialized bowling, batting and fielding coaches and the like and Arthur felt that he would be marginalized and that his territory would be encroached upon. Until everything comes out after the meeting all we have is speculation. However I do feel that bringing in an Alan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Kepler Wessels and the like is the way forward for the team and hope these are the structural changes being made.
The whole selection process is also to be over hauled with a new panel being named after the meeting. The interim panel will consist of Corrie van Zyl, Kepler Wessels and be headed by Majola. I have touted Wessels as my choice to take over from Arthur and perhaps by bringing him in at this stage Majola may be thinking the same. Last night on the cricket show, Inside Edge, Wessels was asked if he would be interested in the job. He said he had not thought about it but that anyone would seriously have to consider if being asked. That was a diplomatic way of saying yes.
Another point driven home during the press conference was that there was no break down in the Smith Arthur relationship and that Smith had no bearing on Arthurs decision to step down. Both were at pains to stress this.
So while South African cricket is in a state of shock and upheaval the game must carry on. The team leaves for India on Saturday with the first test on the 6th. Distractions will be put aside by professionals but all will be eagerly awaiting the results of the February 19th meeting, and a fresh start to a new era of Protea’s cricket.