Andrew Hudson says he has no regrets about his five-year tenure as South Africa’s convenor of selectors, writes Kobus Pretorius.
In an interview with SACricketmag.com, Hudson, who announced he won’t be available for re-election as convenor of selectors, opened up about a wide range of topics, including the controversial World Cup selection issue.
Hudson has declined to comment on the alleged SMS-scandal, saying that it was time to move on from the issue.
After five years in the job, Hudson said it was time to move on and do something else. He has a young family and a career with FNB which he wants to devote more time to.
Asked whether he had any regrets about the last five years, especially after the recent controversy surrounding team selections at the World Cup, Hudson said: ‘No, absolutely not.
‘We thoroughly discussed selections, instead of making rash decisions. There was often intense and robust debate around selection. It was an interesting and unique time. I don’t think I would have done anything differently.
‘I had good relationships with Gary [Kirsten, the previous coach], Russell [Domingo, the current coach] and Corrie [van Zyl, manager of Cricket South Africa]. It was very important to support the coach, because he is ultimately the one who takes the blame when things go wrong.
My mandate was to support the coach and to identify and push talent into the national setup, which we did. There was relatively little controversy during my time, barring the recent World Cup issues.’
Hudson says the biggest lesson he learned was to try to keep the ‘big-picture’ view.
‘It’s important to look at the bigger picture all the time. It’s easier focusing on the short term. It was important to develop and grow talent and South Africa excelled at the highest level while I was there.’
Among the highlights of Hudson’s tenure was the away series wins over England and Australia and the general success of the Test side.
‘The key to our very successful Test team is the passion that the senior players have playing for South Africa, and especially Test cricket. To them it’s still the pinnacle of the game. It’s a wonderful culture to have in the team because it filters down to the rest of the players.’
Most of South Africa’s senior players are on the wrong side of 30, but Hudson says he is very optimistic about the future of the Proteas.
‘There are some younger players who have already come through, while there is some exciting talent out there. The challenge now will be how do we refine that talent,’ he said.
Former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince has been talked about as a possible replacement for Hudson, although Prince himself has not commented on the rumours. Prince is currently playing county cricket for Lancashire in England.
Hudson had some valuable advice for his successor, whoever it might turn out to be.
‘Get the trust of the players. They are the most important part of the whole process. Consistency in selection is also very important, especially with the T20 World Cup just around the corner.’
Hudson and his selection panel’s last duty will be to select a squad for South Africa’s tour to Bangladesh in July. He said the preparation for the next World Cup will start with that tour.
‘The T20 World Cup is next year so we, as well as the new selection panel, shouldn’t chop and change too much, going forward, said Hudson.
‘We were generally consistent in team selections. The key over the next two years will be to pick players who put their hands up and are performing well. Then, with two years to go before the next World Cup, the goal should be to further refine those players and maybe experiment less.
‘Looking ahead to the next World Cup in England, I think we are OK, batting wise. There are enough senior players around. We will probably have to develop and grow an all-rounder, and I don’t know it Imran Tahir will still be around in four years’ time because he would be approaching 40. A spinner who can turn it both ways will be important, while I think swing bowlers will play an important part in those conditions.’