Coach set to mark territory in Sri Lanka

The strangest sight on last month’s generally strange tour to Morocco, certainly from a cricketing perspective, was of new coach Eric Simons watching players train and behave in a way he fundamentally disagreed with.

It didn’t happen all the time but now and then, if you watched closely, it was possible to observe him literally biting his bottom lip as he forced himself not to say anything.

He is a strong, charismatic leader of men, an inspiration to three generations of players at Western Province and he was supposed to work his magic at national level. So what was he doing biting his lip?

“I didn’t think it was appropriate to say too much in Morocco,” Simons said like a wise sage. “The guys have been together for a long time and they have ways of doing things.”

This time, however, as we board a plane for Dubai in under three hours time, the players should know they are in for a shock if they expect Simons to be the ‘soft-touch’ he was in Tangiers.

Like a young male lion thrust into another’s territory, a period of subserviance is crucial in order to survive. Eventually, though, the young lion has to challenge the older one and either die in the fight or claim the territory as his own. Many coaches have been killed off by ‘player power’ in the past. Eric Simons will not be another. There may be some fireworks in Colombo, and they won’t all be from the Buddhist full moon celebrations

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