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By Heinz Schenk


Enoch Nkwe is indeed fit to coach Proteas

What interim Proteas team director Enoch Nkwe and fitness guru Greg King have done is lay down a telling marker.

You will probably find there are two schools of thought on Jon-Jon Smuts being dropped by the Proteas for failing to meet the national team’s fitness standards.

The majority of cricket fans would have scoffed at the Warriors captain’s fate for this month’s T20 series against India. It’s patently embarrassing for a professional athlete to be generally unfit.

We’re not talking match fitness or recovery from an injury.

Smuts, it seems, huffed and puffed like a middle-aged man taking up running.

But then there will be others who are a tad more sympathetic.

Smuts is a diabetic and has had to carefully manage his health to become a very accomplished player.

Rory Kleinveldt and Robbie Frylinck have also shown that being on the heftier side need not mean you can’t make some proper stops in the outfield or bowl a substantial number of overs.

Smuts might not be an AB de Villiers, but he’s a powerful stroke-maker at the top of the order in limited overs formats and a guy who is a more than useful leftarm spinner.

In a nutshell, Smuts possesses the type of qualities that could be useful on the subcontinent and might even excuse him of his fitness levels.

It’s only T20, some will say.

But what interim Proteas team director Enoch Nkwe and fitness guru Greg King have done is lay down a telling marker – you are not making this team if your general fitness is not up to scratch.

It may seem like an obvious thing, but things aren’t particularly simple in SA cricket at the moment. A string of high-profile retirements has left the national setup with some holes to fill.

When the pool of resources seems a bit shallow, it’s sometimes easy for some coaches to slack off on certain standards, just to avoid having to frantically search for replacements that aren’t quite ready-made.

Nkwe is clearly not having any of that.

Not that George Linde is in any way inferior to Smuts, but the national team director seems to value fitness and commitment over certain other traits.

Well done on that.

Heinz Schenk: Online Sports Editor.

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