If Alex Ferguson had preferred cricket to football and found himself coaching the Proteas in 2010, one has to wonder if Graeme Smith would have ousted him like he did Mickey Arthur.
I don’t want to get into an examination of whether Arthur was a good coach or not, but the issue of power, as raised by The Times’ cricket columnist Alex Parker, is an interesting one. He believes that the captain should hold the power in a team.
But what happens if a captain becomes too powerful, as apparently happened to Hansie Cronje before his fall from grace over match-fixing claims?
And if the captain has the power, who will drop him when his own form dips? Can he be expected to make an objective decision if he stands to lose a fortune in salary if he drops himself? I doubt it.
Remember the outcry when then Springbok coach dumped skipper Gary Teichmann before the 1999 Rugby World Cup? Teichmann was certainly aggrieved, and he clearly wouldn’t have dropped himself had the decision been his.
But Mallett was perfectly correct in his decision – Teichman proved he was way off his best playing for the losing Sharks side in the Currie Cup final against the Lions – but the coach’s mistake was the replacements he chose for eighthman.
Equally, there are times when an all-powerful coach is a bad thing – like Rudolf Straeuli piling his team into Kamp Staaldraad before the 2003 World Cup. Captain Corne Krige lacked the character to stand up to him at the time!
Captain versus coach? Is cricket different to football or rugby?
Ideally, they should work together as a team (that’s what team sports are about, after all).
But in the end I would think that a coach should always have the final say. After all, you always need someone to drop the captain – and that’s a job that should never be left to administrators.
Jacques Kallis is set to open the batting with Graeme Smith in the forthcoming series against Zimbabwe, with AB de Villiers to bat at No 3 (read story of squad announcement).
Looking at the statistics, it’s no wonder I get nervous when Kallis bats anywhere else in the order.
You have to pity our poor sports stars.
Instead of getting their all-important rest ahead of important matches on Thursday night, they had to drag themselves off to attend the launch of the Sports Illustrated Swimwear edition for 2009. I’m sure they all wished they were rather in bed …