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Ken Borland

Maketa the coach that just refuses to go away; his patience rewarded

Posted on January 27, 2023 by Ken

In many ways, Malibongwe Maketa is the coach that just refuses to go away and his patience and consistent excellence has finally seen him rewarded with the post of Proteas interim head coach for their Test tour of Australia.

The three Tests in Australia, between December 17 and January 8, are South Africa’s penultimate series in the ICC World Test Championship, in which they currently lie second, 10 percentage points behind Australia. So if the Proteas win the series 2-1 or 1-0 then they will catch Australia up, but any bigger victory will see South Africa take top spot. Their final series is against the West Indies at home early next year.

The 42-year-old Maketa has long been highly-rated as a coach ever since his work as head coach of the Eastern Cape Warriors team from 2014/15 to the end of 2017, especially in white-ball cricket in which he steered the under-resourced franchise to two finals and a share of the One-Day Cup title.

He then became an assistant coach for the Proteas under Ottis Gibson, unfortunately a poisoned chalice for his career. Not only was he tarnished by the under-performance and eventual collapse of the national team in 2019, but his talents as a head coach were lying dormant.

When he lost his job at the same time as Gibson was let go, it seemed that Maketa would have to go back to the bottom of the coaching pecking order again. Fortunately, former director of cricket Graeme Smith restored Maketa to his rightful place as a head coach, giving him the SA A job that he has held up till now.

After his own unsatisfactory experience as an assistant coach, current director of cricket Enoch Nkwe fully understands Maketa’s struggle, but the fact that he has spent a lot of time around international cricket and is also heavily involved in the growth of the next generation of Proteas will stand him in good stead.

“Malibongwe … is a familiar face to the environment and has worked in the same space previously when he served as assistant coach,” Nkwe said in a CSA statement.

“Mali knows most of the players well, they know him too; and with such a short time between now and the tour, we as Cricket South Africa felt we needed someone who could step in immediately and lead us through what is an important series for the Proteas. We have no doubt he will do South Africans proud in this series.”

CSA chief executive officer Pholetsi Moseki said: “Malibongwe has earned respect and acclaim as a coach and a leader. This interim appointment is in recognition of his ability to integrate himself into any system and assure continuity.

“As no stranger to the Proteas set-up, I am confident that he will acquit himself well and hit the ground running.”

After the Australia series, South Africa’s next international commitment is an ODI series at home against England at the end of January.

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