South Africa’s interim team director Enoch Nkwe says he will look to English Premier League soccer coach Pep Guardiola for inspiration during his side’s upcoming tour of India.
Nkwe replaces West Indian Ottis Gibson, the previous head coach, for the trip which starts in September and includes three tests and three Twenty20 Internationals.
Nkwe’s role, though, is all-encompassing and marries the role of head coach, selector and team manager, with other members of the support team reporting directly to him - a similar role to that of a European-style director of football.
Nkwe, 36, told a press conference on Thursday that he was a big fan of Manchester City manager Guardiola and the way he creates successful environments.
“He is on another level. There are a lot of things you can learn from different sporting codes. I have followed his work and enjoy how he backs his philosophy, he always tries to set new boundaries and break new records,” he said.
“Seeing his growth, from coaching one of the biggest clubs in the world (Barcelona) at the age of 37, is an inspiration.”
Nkwe’s appointment drew criticism from some former national team players, given his relative lack of experience - he did not play international cricket - and despite his success coaching the Lions in the 2018/19 domestic season.
Nkwe, though, has had coaching spells as assistant with the Netherlands national side, on the Canadian T20 circuit and with the South African ‘A’ side, including a tour to India, and argues he has enough know-how to take the team forward.
“I don’t feel it is a suicide mission (in India),” he told reporters. “As a coach I strongly believe that every challenge is an opportunity. As management we need to create the right environment as soon as possible.
“I have just been in Canada working with some of the best T20 players in the world. Just to manage Chris Gayle is a massive task in itself!
“Being someone that is always open to new experiences and learning, the last year has been massive in my coaching career and as a person.”
Nkwe will be backed up by batting, bowling and fielding coaches who are expected to be former players with experience of playing or working in India.
“I will take full responsibility for how things unfold in India, but I like to create the environment where each coach has a say, learns and grows,” Nkwe added.
South Africa start the tour with the limited overs matches, the first in Dharamsala on Sept. 15. The tests follow in Visakhapatnam (Oct. 2-6), Pune (Oct. 10-14) and Ranchi (Oct. 19-23), the first for the team in the newly-formed ICC Test Championship.