Friday, March 14, 2008

There are better captains than Smith - Jennings

Ray Jennings: 'I believe there are one or two other guys who are able to lead the team better than he [Smith] does'...

Outspoken former South Africa coach Ray Jennings believes there are better candidates to captain the national side than Graeme Smith.

Jennings has no issue with Smith the batsman, who recently posted a new world Test opening partnership with Neil McKenzie, but does have reservations when it comes to him leading the side. "Graeme Smith is a superb cricketer. He has presence and mental toughness," he told The Wisden Cricketer. "From a captaincy point of view I believe there are one or two other guys who are able to lead the team better than he does."

When pressed to name his preferred candidates, Jennings replied: "Names aren't really important to me. I believe there are better guys to do the job but that's my opinion. As a batsman there's no doubt I'll have Graeme in my side. He's a solid cricketer and a fighter."

When asked to comment on the recent high profile fall out between senior administrators about racial quotas, Jennings said: "South African cricket has to understand that they don't need to put issues like this in the media. They could have had the fight behind closed doors and iron it out there. It has put me and a lot of cricketers in an awkward position.

"I'm sad that coloured players in the team could have a stigma attached, where they feel they are underprivileged when that's not the case. It's not about having a 50-50 or 60-40 split between white and coloured players. In our country the sides are picked on their cricketing ability because the players of colour are good enough to play."

Jennings, who served a six-month stint as national coach, also said he would take up the post if it came around again, but only under his own terms. "I would definitely take it up again but there would be a few conditions. I would look at the combination of the side: how it gets picked. I would also look at my management staff and how I put that together."

In a terse media release, Cricket South Africa said Jennings claimed to have been "misquoted" in the article.