At first glance, Brendan Venter and Dale Benkenstein don’t have a lot in common.
One is the Springboks’ defence guru, the other the new Proteas batting coach.
Yet they both represent our local sporting federations’ inability to manage their affairs effectively for professionalism.
Call me conservative but when a national team ropes in a coach, I expect that he or she would be fully committed and a permanent employee.
One also wouldn’t object if that person supplemented his responsibilities by working with domestic teams to make those players used to the national setup.
However, today the Springboks take on Italy without Venter.
He’s been in South Africa this week because he doesn’t want to create a conflict of interest between the two sides.
Yes, Venter is a consultant for both sides.
I just don’t get that.
Regardless of his influence and pedigree as a coach, it just reflects badly on the Springbok brand.
Do the Boks and Saru really have so little clout that they can’t tie him to something more concrete than a “reasonably committed” consultancy role?
To Saru’s credit though, it probably won’t matter for much longer.
With Rassie Erasmus and right-hand man Jacques Nienaber back this week, Venter’s time is likely up as Nienaber is known for his excellent defensive coaching.
More importantly, Nienaber is expected to implement a national defensive system.
Now that’s what I expect from a (reasonably) big name team like the Springboks.
The same can’t quite be said for the Proteas when their new coaching staff starts work from December 16.
By now it’s known why head coach Ottis Gibson wanted Benkenstein.
The two were teammates at English county Durham and forged a close relationship.
Given that Gibson was sort of expected to promote local coaching talent in Malibongwe Maketa and Justin Ontong, Benkenstein becomes a very important figure for him.
He’ll be Gibson’s ear, his confidante.
That said, Benkenstein – much like Venter – will be juggling responsibilities.
He’ll remain Hilton College’s first team head when he’s not with the Proteas.
Benkenstein insists the international schedule “allows” him to to “50% of the work” at the school but again there’s a perception problem.
In this instance, is Cricket South Africa in such a tight spot financially – remember the T20 Global League – that they relied on his Hilton salary to recruit him?