'Must understand culture of high-performance teams' – Pienaar

Francois Pienaar emphasised that processes are key to ensuring that a team is ‘knocking on the door of a trophy’ © Getty Images

Understanding the core of a winning culture could be chief on the agenda for the four-person committee tasked with reviewing South Africa’s national cricket teams. Francois Pienaar, the 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning captain who is on the panel, explained that although the scope of the review has yet to be defined, he hopes to bring his knowledge of high performance to the process.

“We are designing the scope on April 28 and then that goes to the [CSA] board and the board will then sign off on it and we will start on our work. For now we are deciding where the key focus areas will be and how we divvy up the roles,” Pienaar told journalists at the launch of the Cape Town marathon, an event for which he is one of the ambassadors.

“I have been involved in high-performance teams and it’s not about which sport, it’s about the processes in place. There are four or five things you need to get right – and one of them is a bit of luck – to win. If you do four or five things really well, you will have a really good chance of winning.”

According to Pienaar, who maintained a 100% record alongside coach Kitch Christie and with the Transvaal team in the 1993 Super Rugby competition, one of those things is ensuring that success is transferred from domestic to international level.

“Let’s go back in rugby. Every World Cup that has been won since 1987, the core of that winning national team came from the club side that dominated. So that side knew how to win. Like in 1995, the core of our team was from the Lions,” he said.

South African cricket faces an immediate problem in that regard because none of the six franchises can claim to be truly dominant. In addition to that, very few internationals turn out regularly for their franchise teams. To combat that, cricket may want to pay particular attention to the processes Pienaar described, which can create a winning culture even if the individuals involved change.

“CEOs and coaches and captains come and go but you have to understand the culture of high-performance teams and you can’t tinker with that. As soon as you start tinkering with that, then you stand the risk of not remaining a high-performance team. That process is for me the most exciting thing and looking at how you put processes in place to ensure you will always be knocking on the door of a trophy, or a series or a championship,” he said.

Apart from being involved in successful South African teams, Pienaar was also a player-coach at Saracens in England, whom he helped to their first ever cup win and where he created a structure he is “very proud of”, which has ensured they “are still a high-performance team”. Does he think he will be able to do the same for South African cricket?

“It’s for me to bring a different approach and a different view and for us as a panel to recommend certain things. It’s not that we are the fount of knowledge. Definitely not,” he said.

Pienaar hopes the panel’s recommendations will be made public on completion.

Read the full interview with Francois Pienaar on ESPNcricinfo on April 21

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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