Proteas head coach Mark Boucher’s appointment has come under intense scrutiny in cricket circles, with allegations surfacing that the appointment process was improper.
Boucher was appointed to the position in December last year just days after former Proteas teammate Graeme Smith was named, at the time, interim director of cricket.
The former wicketkeeper was handed a four-year contract right off the bat, which is due to expire after the next Cricket World Cup. Boucher took over from Enoch Nkwe, who was acting in the role following Ottis Gibson’s axing. Nkwe was subsequently appointed as Boucher’s assistant.
A source within cricket said the post was not advertised and no interviews were held before Boucher was announced at Newlands on Saturday 14 December, less than two weeks before the Boxing Day Test against England in Centurion.
By contrast, Proteas Women head coach Hilton Moreeng had to reapply for his post and was successful after it was advertised. Former SA Under-19 head coach Lawrence Mahatlane opted to take up a job as Uganda head coach when his post went up for advertisement and he had to reapply.
Another high-placed source within Cricket South Africa’s (CSA’s) Members’ Council wrote to SA TIMES questioning the events that transpired during a chaotic summer and the predominantly white male appointments that took place.
“Let’s look at the recent activities that have taken place in cricket,” said the insider, who asked to have their identity protected for fear of victimisation.
“After [Thabang] Moroe was suspended, the board came out to announce Jacques Faul as the acting chief and within days announced Graeme Smith as the director of cricket, who in turn appointed Mark Boucher as the head coach of the men’s team.
“And true to the ‘Protea Fire’ culture they brought in their mate Jacques Kallis. All white males appointments (sic) unsupported by any proper governance processes. Why did the board allow this?”
CSA interim CEO Faul replied that: “[We] only had six days to make the appointment prior to the start of the Test series against England. Had we advertised the position we would not have been able to appoint a coach in time for the England tour.”
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Recent Proteas men’s head coaches from the time Mickey Arthur left the position in 2010 have received initial 2-year terms, which, upon review, could be extended, as was the case with Russell Domingo between 2013 and 2017. Gary Kirsten and Ottis Gibson served only their initial two-year terms.
Boucher’s previous appointment to the Titans head coach role also faced scrutiny after he landed the top job without a coaching qualification or any head coaching experience. By virtue of being a former Test cricketer, he is automatically assigned a Level 2 coaching certificate.
He, however, led the Titans to two domestic T20 titles, two Momentum One Day Cups as well as a 4-Day Series trophy in a successful reign from 2016 to last year.
Amid a raging Black Lives Matter debate among high-profile cricket figures on Twitter, Boucher’s appointment process was also questioned by former Proteas selector and leading commentator Hussein Manack.
Manack said he rated Boucher as a coach but expressed surprise in the process that led to his appointment.
“My surprise was around the process and I’m not even talking about the individual,” Manack told SA TIMES.
“The board has been criticised recently for not following processes, lacking corporate governance and the general running of Cricket SA.
“While all of that is happening, you have the appointment of your head coach, one of the most important positions in cricket. And it got done so quickly, without, what looked like, any due process. I was very shocked to see how this happened so quickly.
“I’d like to find out if: was there a process, who did the interviews and was the position advertised?
“Was Graeme Smith, who everybody knows is very close to Boucher, involved in the appointment?
“Those are the important questions. If you do a proper interview process, more than likely you will come out with the best candidate.
“I rate Boucher as a coach, and I have no issue with him personally. But there’s [batting consultant] Kallis and [spin consultant Paul] Harris and we are all asking if this is becoming a job for pals, who all happen to be white. What’s going on?”
At the time of Boucher’s appointment Smith said the Proteas needed a “hardened, internationally experienced guy” to help lift the team from an apparent slump.