Graham Ford is not the first sports coach or manager to be sacked for being too nice, and he won’t be the last. But that does NOT mean that he isn’t a good coach. In fact, he’s one of the best in the world.
Hopefully, his ability and skills will not be ignored by the United Cricket Board. All it takes is a little bit of maturity and the realisation that keeping Ford involved does not mean an about turn on his sacking. Ford was axed by the UCB because he was appointed to the wrong position – that’s the UCB’s fault, not Ford’s.
Fordy has made a success of his coaching career because he has, for the most part, worked with players who were keen, focussed and untainted by the perks and privileges of success and fame. First it was with KwaZulu Natal and then, for a time, the national team.
It started to go wrong for two reasons: Some players suffered the natural head-swelling that accompanies fame and they stopped trusting Ford and started producing their own agendas, most of which (funnily enough) involved training less, not more that Ford would have liked. Ford did not have the inclination to argue or fight with ‘big name’ players.
The other mistake Ford made was to sympathise with his charges when their focus and attention was affected by politics and boardroom wrangles.
As much as he sympathised and empathised, perhaps it was his duty to bang their sulking heads together and make sure they got on with the job of winning cricket matches – or at least competing in them.
In short, Ford was – and is – a coach, not a ‘manager’ (although no doubt this experience will make him a hellova lot tougher!). Eric Simons, it seems, is a bit of both. Tough and uncompromising to the point of downright meanness if he has to be, life will be no picnic for South Africa’s supremos from now on.
And with Omar Henry having lived his life in cricket by the same principles as Simons, don’t be surprised if we see a couple of extremely surprising omissions from the national team. Maybe just for a game or two, but if that’s what it takes to get attitudes back in line, these are two men who will not hesitate.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.