From tor­men­tor to Easterns men­tor

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Ken Bor­land

For­mer Proteas pace bowler An­dre Nel is the new coach of the Easterns team and says you’re not nearly as likely to hear him roar­ing from off the field as you were likely to hear him on the field dur­ing his play­ing days.

“It’s hard not be­ing as fiery, but my job is to un­der­stand and man­age the play­ers, look af­ter them well and get the best out of them. I’m pretty laid-back, but dis­ci­pline, re­spect and never giv­ing up are things I won’t com­pro­mise on,” Nel says.

The 37-year-old, who played 36 Tests and 79 ODIs for South Africa, has been coach­ing at school and academy level and sees the Easterns ap­point­ment as his break­through fi rst job at se­nior level.

“When you’ve played with that much pas­sion, it’s hard to just take your­self out of com­pe­ti­tion. For me it was more about pas­sion than ag­gres­sion and so once I stopped play­ing I started coach­ing at schools and the academy. My big­gest ad­van­tage is that I know and un­der­stand how the play­ers think and what their needs are. And they re­spect me too be­cause they know I’ve done it my­self, I know how cricket works,” Nel says.

Nel said his long-time men­tor, Ray Jen­nings, would be help­ing him at Easterns, es­pe­cially in terms of set­ting up struc­tures and im­prov­ing the dis­ci­pline.

“It will take time, but it’s a lot more than just coach­ing – we’ve got to get the struc­tures right. We’ve also al­ready spo­ken about club fa­cil­i­ties, which are poor and don’t give play­ers the best op­por­tu­nity to show what they can do. And we need to make Wil­low­moore Park some­where where we can proud of too. Oth­ers hate com­ing there, but we must be proud of our of­fice,” Nel says.

And, in terms of on-the-field ac­tion and his own area of ex­per­tise – bowl­ing, Nel says for him the yorker is a much un­der-utilised skill.

“Bat­ting skill has moved so far for­ward with guys play­ing re­verse-sweeps and laps, but bowl­ing skill seems to be stand­ing still. The slower-ball bouncer and slower yorker are both old news and we need to try and fig­ure out what we can do to bring a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion to bowl­ing.”

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