New Proteas Test coach Shukri Conrad knows he has his work cut out for him but insists there’s the talent to turn things around.
One of Conrad’s first duties will be to restore a bit of belief and pride in the badge among the squad after demoralising series defeats against England and Australia.
South Africa don’t play as much Test cricket as they used to but it is still worth noting they have not won a Test series since March last year when they beat Bangladesh at home.
“We need to perform like champions. We’re a leading nation in world cricket,” Conrad told News24.
“I’m also under no illusions as to how tough the job’s going to be. It’s going to be a tough gig.
“Our performances haven’t been great of late and it’s going to take a concerted effort from everybody involved.
“I’m looking forward to that challenge. I’d have never taken this job if I didn’t think I had the ability to turn things around.
“Ultimately, we’re going to be judged by what we do on the field. That’s critical for me and of paramount importance for a South African side.”
The Proteas’ biggest concern is their batting, with none of their key batsmen averaging above 40 in Test cricket
Conrad is adamant that no one will get a free ride in his Proteas team and that difficult conversations will happen with underperforming players.
“We need honest engagement rather than [plain] communication. Communication can be one way,” he said.
“There are going to be some really tough conversations but I pride myself on being able to have those conversations with the players.
“I pride myself on bringing that honesty, which some might say is too honest sometimes. We’re going to have to be very smart and meticulous to plot these next couple of years very well.”
Conrad believes a recovery job will take time and warned fans that it won’t always be smooth sailing.
“There will be one or two little wobbles along the way but [it can be done] if we find the right characters to go forward with,” he said. “We can see in the SA20 that we’ve got talent to burn in this country.”