Ian Baker - South Africa will be poorer without Arthur
28 Jan 2010 - 08:50:21
After a tough 2009, it appeared as if South Africa were firmly back track. Two impressive performances this year - they came so close to winning in Cape Town before thumping England at the Wanderers in Johannesburg - had given the Proteas belief they had turned a corner.
Mickey Arthur and Graeme Smith, two strong characters, had clearly got the best out of players whose performances had dipped over a difficult year.
So poor in 2009, South Africa have been excellent so far in 2010. Aided by the improved performances of young quicks Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, South Africa have been backed up by the batsman, in particular Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.
They seemed like a side heading in the right direction, learning from their mistakes, and one that could well match India in their upcoming tour as they bid to regain their No.1 spot in Test cricket.
All this makes Arthur's decision to resign from his post as coach more surprising - just five days before his side were due to leave for the sub-continent.
Arthur is a likeable character throughout the cricketing world. A jovial man, he is the kind of inspirational coach who should never be short of work. A surprise choice to succeed Ray Jennings in May 2005, Arthur has achieved what many others have not, when he became the first South African coach to help his side towards a series win in 2008.
That year was certainly a watershed year in South African cricket but they failed to follow it up in 2009, winning just once in the Test match arena.
If the Arthur/Smith partnership was to break up, it would have made a great deal of sense for it to happen then. Instead, following a speculated disagreement between the two, the captain has 'won' and the coach has gone.
But there are no winners in this sorry saga which brings back memories of Kevin Pietersen's spat with England coach Peter Moores just over 12 months ago. Then both Pietersen and Moores lost their jobs.
I do not think there is any doubt that Arthur is a considerably better coach than Moores - the England man's departure did not become a huge loss with replacement Andy Flower excelling in his new role.
But South African cricket - and indeed world cricket - is a far worse place without the confident, positive Arthur.
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