Like an opening batsman with a rock-solid forward defensive, Proteas interim team director, Enoch Nkwe, on Thursday calmly blocked away any suggestions that he’s taken on a “suicide mission”.
The 36-year-old former franchise all-rounder last week was appointed in the newly-created role for a daunting tour to India, which includes three Tests.
The hosts haven’t lost series there since 2012/13 and also handed a full-strength South African team a 3-0 hammering during their previous visit in 2015.
Given that the national team is undoubtedly in transition, Nkwe is certainly up against it and could do his promising if fledgling coaching career some harm.
“I don’t feel like this is a so-called suicide mission at all,” he said.
“I was asked a similar question when I took over last season at the Higvheld Lions (where he won two trophies). I strongly believe that every challenge is an opportunity for personalities and the team in general to thrive. We want to create that environment as soon as possible.
“We understand that a few squad members may have been negatively affected by the World Cup campaign. But they’ve had time now to deal with it and it’s up to us to provide support.”
Nkwe’s willingness to take up the role, particularly as he’s on a good wicket at the Lions, has also surprised a few observers.
“Why did I take up the offer? Wow, how do you say ‘no’? You dream of a national call-up as a player and of course, as a coach, you want to lead your country,” he said.
“The opportunity just really excited me. I’m extremely motivated. I didn’t expect it to come so soon, but as an individual I’ve always prided myself on stretching by abilities. Yearly, I make sure that I’m ready for a new challenge.
“If I felt I couldn’t lead this team for the next two months, I would’ve said no.”