South Africa will look to re-engage Jacques Kallis in a batting consultancy role as early as next month, ahead of their three-Test series against Australia, after Cricket South Africa’s affirmative action hiring policy was put in abeyance by the interim board.
Last year, CSA made public a decision to give preference to consultants of colour as part of their transformation drive, effectively ruling Kallis (and others such as Paul Harris) out of part-time roles within the structures. Kallis, who worked as a batting consultant for the South African men’s team in the 2019-20 summer, has since signed a short-term deal with England but said he was “sad” not to be working with his home country. https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/england-in-sri-lanka-2020-21-jacques-kallis-sad-to-be-surplus-to-sa-requirements-as-england-coaching-stint-begins-1247716 That could change as soon as he returns from England’s tour to Sri Lanka, with coach Mark Boucher suggesting Kallis should be used for the Australia series.
Although no one from Cricket South Africa has communicated with head coach Mark Boucher about their employment policy, he “picked it up from the media,” that white consultants can be used, and hopes to entice Kallis to become involved as soon as possible. “Now that the rules have been changed a bit, he is someone we would like to get back into a consultancy role,” Mark Boucher, South Africa’s coach said. “I haven’t had any major conversations with Jacques because he is in Sri Lanka now but, in the next short period of time, if we can get him involved somewhere soon, maybe against Australia, we must.”
“A lot of the media have been saying that Jacques is my mate and it’s a buddy selection. Yes, he is a mate of mine but Jacques is also a very good cricketer with a lot of knowledge. Why wouldn’t we want him in our set-up?”
The exact dates and venues of the Australia series are yet to be confirmed but indications are that the three Tests will be played between Johannesburg and Centurion, both venues known for spicy surfaces. Though South Africa’s batsmen fared well over the festive period against a depleted Sri Lankan side, they have endured three summers of lean scores and someone like Kallis is seen as central to helping them improve.
“Jacques was working with guys on an individual basis. He is a massive loss, the reason being that a lot of our batters were working with him. Even during the off season, he was having chats over Zoom. He had a session with Temba Bavuma here in Cape Town. Temba speaks very highly of him. There’s a lot of knowledge that Jacques can pass on, to not only Temba but other batters as well,” Boucher said.
“The batting knowledge that he has got, along with a couple of other guys in this country, needs to be utilised. The start was there, and then it was taken away from the players. Unfortunately, my hands are tied behind my back. Sometimes you get messages passed down to say this guy can’t be selected to fulfil a role that you want him involved in.”
Kallis’ stint with South Africa ended after last summer’s England series, several months before the affirmative action policy was put in place. During Kallis’ time with the team, the South African set-up faced criticism for having several white men in senior position (then acting CEO Jacques Faul, director of cricket Graeme Smith, Boucher and Kallis) and for appearing to favour a particular clique, an accusation which has been denied. “A lot of the media have been saying that Jacques is my mate and it’s a buddy selection. Yes, he is a mate of mine but Jacques is also a very good cricketer with a lot of knowledge. Why wouldn’t we want him in our set-up?” Boucher asked.
The answer lay in the former board’s determination to make cricket more representative as quickly as possible. In addition to their stance on consultants, the former board also proposed increased transformation targets for the national team which have since been suspended. They did not, however, apply the same policy to full-time employees and in fact hired both Dillon du Preez (assistant coach to the national women’s team) and Neil McKenzie (batting lead), who are both white over the winter.
McKenzie’s job is not limited to the national men’s team and involves overseeing batting at all levels of South African cricket – the national men’s, women’s, under-19 and high-performance. As such, he will not travel with the national men’s team to Pakistan, meaning they do not have a specifically appointed batting coach. It is not known whether Kallis was approached for the same role.
Instead, Kallis has been courted by England but confirmed he did not apply for the elite batting coach’s position, potentially leaving him open to working with South Africa again. However, Boucher warned that South Africa needs to treat Kallis “with care,” if they hope to be able to make use of his services.
“He is on my radar. I’m trying to get him back involved with the Proteas set-up. I just hope we treat him with care. He has shown he has got a lot of other opportunities in world cricket. We would be stupid not to try and hang on to him as long as we don’t mess him around,” Boucher said. “I know Jacques would love to be working in South African cricket. I’m sure that after the conversations we’ll have, we will hopefully see him back here.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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