Mr Ray Jennings has had a lot of press attention since he was appointed (on a short-term contract). The excellent commentator and author, ex-Middlesex RMF Simon Hughes, makes some interesting observations in his article with The Telegraph today. This dictatorial & dickension approach to coaching will not succeed with experienced players like Kallis & Pollock. I don’t make predictions before a Test series, but I do know which of these teams is the more professional…
Jennings was a combative and talented wicketkeeper-batsman during South Africa’s years of isolation. But there is something dangerously inflexible about his disciplinarian attitude, in stark contrast to Duncan Fletcher’s quiet counselling. On the recent tour of India, Jennings had the bowlers running laps if they conceded more than a stipulated number of runs per over, and yesterday he subjected even the most senior players to an impossible sequence of catches fired out of a bowling machine, a sort of cricketing version of being strafed. `What kind of a sadist are you, coach?” asked Pollock, only half joking. If things don’t go well, Jennings is liable to put more than a few noses out of joint.
In contrast, the England team appeared to be relaxed last night, erasing the memory of last weekend’s loss in Potchefstroom.
Both teams are holed up in the same hotel, and there was a cordial atmosphere between them when they encountered each other in the lobby. Hostilities resume tomorrow: England have history to make, South Africa have reputations to restore. I know who my money is on.