Can the Proteas win without coaches?
WHEN South Africa's iconic coaches are not in attendance, the Proteas perform below themselves.
That, to the cynics at least, will be the inference to be drawn from Gary Kirsten's absence from the the third T20 against England at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
With the head coach presumably watching from Cape Town, where he had gone to spend time with his family, SA followed a poor bowling performance with sub-par batting - and England levelled the series.
In March, bowling coach Allan Donald returned home - also for family reasons - before the third Test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington.
SA went into the last day needing 10 second-innings wickets to win and claim the series 2-0.
Only six Kiwis were culled as one of the weakest batting line-ups in test cricket held on for the draw.
That said, extenuating circumstances influenced both matches.
Wednesday's game was the last of 11 meetings between England and the Proteas this summer.
The major business at hand, the test series, was won in superb style by Graeme Smith's men and the one-day rubber was damply drawn. Rain also played a role in the T20s, with the third instalment of a series that the visitors could not lose reduced to 11 overs a side.
If the South Africans took the final fling less than seriously, who could blame them?
In Wellington, where the Proteas knew a draw would be good enough to win the series, Kane Williamson scored a test century and rain robbed the match of a day's play.
But Kirsten's philosophy of asking his players to shoulder more of the responsibility traditionally borne by the coaching staff - which can translate into their having to make do without him - will nonetheless irk those of the old-fashioned view that a coach's place is with his team.
Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams is not among them: "When the conditions are tough and things aren't going that well, you need to look to yourself and not around you.
"Once the guys cross the rope you, as a coach, you don't have much control. It's up to them."
Kirsten is due to be reunited with the squad in Sri Lanka, where they will arrive today for the World T20.