South Africa needs a new captain

South Africa needs a new captain, of course, but so does every other team. Australia are worried about Steve Waugh’s age and they’d prefer a one-day captain without Ricky Ponting’s chequered disciplinary record. Heavy drinking and compulsive gambling aren’t perfect material for a captaincy CV.

And don’t Pakistan need a captain? But then, don’t they always! India are led by a man who can’t field and doesn’t appear too bothered by that fact, apart from his inability to stop sulking when things go badly. No doubt about it, India could certainly do with a couple of improvements in the captaincy department.

England have a broody leader with brittle fingers and New Zealand’s skipper has a brilliant brain but stubbornly continues to under-perform and may not be worth his place without the captaincy. Poor old Zimbabwe – they really do need a new captain with Heath Streak breaking his shoulder falling out of a three-wheeler taxi in Colombo.

Who does that leave with the perfect captain? You got it. Kenya cannot improve on Steve Tikolo. And Roland Lefebvre is indisputably the best man to lead Holland.

Of course, Shaun Pollock isn’t perfect for South Africa but the most irritating aspect of the criticism heading his way in the days since the humiliation in Colombo is that nobody, as far as I can see, has bothered to offer practical or realistic solutions to Pollock’s supposed uninspired leadership.

That’s because there aren’t any.

Mark Boucher is a non-starter unless the South African captaincy can be arranged to start when the players walk on to the field and stop when they walk off it. Neil McKenzie isn’t in the team and, just at the moment, his life is just a little too busy off the field and a little too ‘David Beckham’.

With apologies to everyone else in the Test and one-day XIs, there isn’t a candidate in sight. Unless you count Dale Benkenstein who is, and will probably continue to be, an excellent option – and will be an even better one when and if he becomes a regular starter. His own view is quite simple: “It’s ridiculous to talk about that. I’ve been out of the team for two years and I’m just delighted to be back in the frame,” he said in Colombo two weeks ago.

I spoke to Shaun Pollock at great length about the captaincy while we were in Colombo and the most striking conclusion is that he continually reviews every aspect of his performance, and I mean all of it.

Furthermore, he admits making some mistakes in every department. The important point, naturally, is that he cannot correct those mistakes without recognising and admitting them. “I’m not pretending to be the best captain South Africa ever had, and I’ve still got plenty to learn, but I’m determined to be the best I can and to make South Africa proud,” he said.

There are two points here: Shaun Pollock deserves a bit of support and understanding because he’s done many good things (don’t forget the West Indies) and, secondly, he is the best man for the job. Certainly at the moment, anyway.


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