Now this is how you give transformation a sporting chance
Enoch Nkwe and Ashwell Prince show how much can be achieved by giving coaches a chance to thrive
Transformation isn’t easy but when it’s applied wholeheartedly, it works and what has transpired in the Four-Day Franchise Series is a perfect example of it.
The Highveld Lions are coached by Thabiso Enoch Nkwe, a former representative of the franchise before an injury ended his career.
The Cape Cobras are coached by Ashwell Gavin Prince, a former 66-Test Protea player who made gritty batting and over-my-dead-body innings very fashionable before the likes of AB de Villiers redefined the art of batting.
These two very different cricketers from different backgrounds have transitioned into coaching at separate stages of their cricketing careers, and their achievements have been understandably different.
Nkwe, who’s been in management longer than Prince, has two trophies to show for his efforts this season, while Prince has unfortunately had to hang onto Nkwe’s tails. The strides that Prince has taken this season can’t be snarled at, especially with the fact he’s recently just earned his elite coaching badges that is Cricket South Africa’s Level Three coaching certificate.
The trending theme though in their appointments and their achievements is opportunity. It’s a well-used and well-worn word but it’s an important one in the context of SA’s coaching context. You can never know how good someone can be until they’re given the chance to prove themselves.
The Cape Cobras and the Highveld Lions can pat themselves on the back for this and even though there are two more trophies up for grabs in the SA domestic cricket summer, the coaching horses they’ve backed are the winning ones.
Opportunity may be seen as underrated but it will forever remain an important aspect in SA sport where a large number of black coaches in the formerly white sports have been consistently overlooked. Who knows the kind of head coach Malibongwe Maketa would have been if he wasn’t offered the opportunity at the Warriors? Chances are he wouldn’t have registered on Ottis Gibson’s radar if he didn’t get a franchise coaching gig.
The Titans loss was a proper gain for the Warriors and the national team, and the knock-on effect was seeing Rivash Gobind also getting a fair coaching crack in the Eastern Cape.
When one looks at the strides the Warriors have made this season and the standout performances of their youngsters in Lutho Sipamla and Sinethemba Qeshile, and wise heads like Edward Moore, JJ Smuts and Simon Harmer, their cricket trajectory is heading along the right path.
Look at the accelerated development of the likes of Zubayr Hamza, David Bedingham and Janneman Malan, while the likes of Dane Piedt, Pieter Malan, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Aviwe Mgijima and Dane Paterson have found their feet as senior professionals at the Cape Cobras.
Talent may always be there, but the right type of coaching nudges players in the direction they need to see whether they can really make the step up. However, it all boils down to the gifting of opportunities and the provision of an environment that’ll allow coaches to thrive.
Prince and Nkwe won’t be the first and not the last black coaches to thrive in the domestic game, but they’re the examples of the best use of opportunities. Rugby will do well to look in cricket’s direction.