Highveld Lions stalwart and former Proteas opening batsman Stephen Cook said he is excited by the appointment of Enoch Nkwe as the new team director of the national team.
The 36-year-old Cook played alongside Nkwe, who is the same age, at Gauteng and the Lions from 2002/03 to the end of the 2008/09 season, after which the all-rounder suffered a career-ending wrist injury.
Cook was then one of Nkwe’s senior lieutenants last season as the Highveld Lions coach enjoyed a dream debut season by winning three major trophies.
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“The Proteas are clearly in transition and Enoch is definitely the right guy for that sort of team. Certain teams work really well with certain coaches, like Geoff Toyana was really good with the Lions before Enoch took over, but with a different sort of team it might not have gone so well. Enoch is a very structured coach, whereas Geoff was hugely relaxed. Before them, Dave Nosworthy was by the book but Gordon Parsons was more laidback.
“If the role is more of a manager then Enoch fits that perfectly because management is his strength. If the requirements of the job are to get all the players on the same page, to make sure the team has the right culture, then Enoch’s your man. He’s not going to teach you how to cover-drive, even though his knowledge of the game is great, he’ll bring in guys to help with that,” Cook said.
Nkwe’s first challenge is near at hand with the Proteas starting the new Test Championship with the most daunting assignment of all – playing India in India.
But Nkwe, despite his lack of top-level experience, has impressed already with his can-do attitude and Cook said he has the support around him to make a success of the job.
“The success or failure of the coach always depends on the people and players he has around him, but I’m sure we will see growth in those players. Enoch will bring discipline and ensure there is buy-in in terms of a common goal. He will align the captaincy and leadership of the team and I know he has already had good conversations with Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock.
“He can teach the batsmen to bat as a unit. I’ve known Enoch since we were both young guys, and the feedback is always good in terms of his management skills. I’ve known for years that he’s a future Proteas coach,” Cook said.
While Nkwe’s support staff has not yet been announced, there is a possibility he will appoint consultants on a short-term basis from the country which the Proteas are touring.
This would be following the example of New Zealand, who have roped in former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera as an extra batting coach on their current tour of the country.