Linda Zondi will not be considered for South Africa’s convener of selectors position, after failing to be shortlisted for the post despite being the incumbent. ESPNcricinfo understands that Victor Mpitsang, Hussein Manack and Patrick Moroney were interviewed last week with Mpitsang the frontrunner to get the job.
The post, which has been vacant since Zondi’s contract ended after the 2019 World Cup, has been significantly revamped and is now a full-time role. The convener will no longer only select the men’s national team but will also be responsible for selecting the women’s side, the A team, the under-19 team and will oversee the scouting and selection program in consultation with the director of cricket (DOC) Graeme Smith. Earlier this month, Smith spoke about the importance of the position.
“The convenor of selectors is a key person in CSA. It’s a job that comes with a lot of pressure from all fronts,” he said. “The role definition is slightly changed. We’ve shifted it to not only being a national team convener but to controlling the whole pipeline, which speaks to our high-performance strategy. We feel it’s important to create the avenues of communication — the way we play, the way we select, the way we think, the way we operate, the type of people we want involved in that environment is key. We’ve aligned the convenor of selectors right through the pipeline. He’ll be overseeing everything. The convenor now is a much more extensive job. The convenor of selectors working on the whole system and owning the whole system, and being part of all the processes, is key.”
For that reason, an extensive list of criteria was laid out for applicants to the post including a minimum of five years experience as a selector and a qualification in sports management. Zondi, who has been a selector for 13 years and holds a diploma in sports management, was told he did not meet the requirements to be shortlisted.
“The process to appoint the new convener is currently under way and once it is complete we will announce the successful candidate and other relevant information,” a CSA statement said.
It is also unclear when the new convener will be unveiled but ESPNcricinfo expects it imminently. Mpitsang, who is understood to be the preferred choice, convened the selection panel for the under-19 team that participated in this year’s World Cup and placed eighth. He has also worked as a commentator for pay-television channel SuperSport . He is also the only black African candidate on the shortlist and although CSA’s affirmative action policy does not extend to full-time employees (only consultants), having Mpitsang on the staff is likely to be met with approval from CSA’s transformation policy.
Still, Mpitsang does have competition. Manack and Moroney both impressed the interview panel. Manack served as a selector under Zondi and also applied for the DOC position but lost out to Smith. Moroney was being considered under the former CEO Thabang Moroe’s regime and convened the selection panel for the Jozi Stars, the team that won the inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL).
In contrast, Zondi, who will no longer be involved, has a history of selection that stretches back almost two decades. He worked within the structures at the Kwa-Zulu Natal province and Dolphins franchise, as a national women’s selector between 2007 and 2009, as national men’s team selector between 2013 to 2015, during which time he also selected the under-19 squad that won the 2014 World Cup, and as convener of selectors between 2015 and 2019. During that time, Zondi’s picks including the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Rassie van der Dussen have thrived and he was also involved with Quinton de Kock’s elevation to white-ball captain. He was then reappointed as an “independent selector,” when the national men’s team management was overhauled last December, on a short-term contract which ended in April.
Among the new convener’s most pressing early task will be to appoint a new men’s Test captain, even though there is no indication of when the national team will be in action again.