Graeme Smith seems to have done enough over the course of three months to convince Cricket South Africa he is the right man for the director of cricket role.
It would be surprising if CSA set a string of targets for Smith to achieve in the role in such a short time and it will take at least four years before it becomes clear whether or not he is the right fit.
In 2015, England appointed Andrew Strauss as director of cricket. The decision was derided by sections of the media confounded by the vague nature of the position.
Strauss was charged uppermost with ensuring that England improved in ODI cricket. Four years later, England won the World Cup, having revolutionised their game. Strauss himself couldn’t see through the cycle because of a personal tragedy, but England’s story gives South Africa the best example of a director of cricket achieving the desired effect.
In hindsight, England’s ODI ascension looks a lot simpler than it was and the exact extent of Strauss’ role in ending a long wait for a world title may never be known.
Smith has a broad set of responsibilities and concerns, but at the heart of his job is the quest for South Africa’s first major trophy.
In the three months in the job, Smith has established the beginnings of a clear Proteas sporting philosophy.
Rewarding franchise players who have performed well and ensuring the team play the bold and attractive cricket are at the heart of that philosophy.
Smith will take a central role in determining who will be given charge of the Women’s and Under-19 teams. Both coaching positions will be key as Smith maps out the long-term path for South African cricket.
A stronger women’s game must be a priority for Smith and Cricket South Africa. There is only so much Smith can do to further women’s cricket without significant investment from either CSA directly – or through sponsors and corporate partnerships.
CSA and Smith should reach an agreement on a contract by the end of April.
Smith is expected to be kept very busy in this role, but through it all, he must be the man to ensure that the Proteas keep their eyes on the prize.
At the end of his term as director of cricket, Smith will be judged on whether or not his work helped propel the Proteas to major trophies.
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