Malibongwe Maketa named South Africa interim head coach

Malibongwe Maketa named South Africa interim head coach
Maketa is currently the South Africa A coach and National Academy Lead and will take charge of the Test squad from December until early January. He has been involved with the Test squad recently, and was part of the touring group, in England in August, as a consultant. He also served as assistant head coach to the senior men’s national side under Ottis Gibson from 2017-2019 and head coach of the Warriors franchise from February 2015. Under Maketa, the Warriors reached two limited-overs finals – the one-day and 20-over tournaments in the 2016-17 season.
The decision comes after Mark Boucher, the current men’s head coach of South Africa, informed CSA that he would leave the job at the end of the ongoing Men’s T20 world Cup in Australia.

ESPNcricinfo has learnt that Boucher’s support staff which includes bowling coach Charl Langeveldt, batting coach Justin Sammons and fielding coach Justin Ontong will be retained for the Australia series. Maketa has worked with all of them in the past. It is also understood that Maketa intends to apply for the permanent position once CSA advertises the job in the coming weeks.

CSA is planning to split the job into two, with one coach in charge of the Test team, who will also be actively involved in first-class cricket, and another to head up the white-ball squads. The new posts could be filled before South Africa’s World Cup Super League series against England in January 2023.

Maketa is South Africa’s second black African coach after current director of cricket (DOC) Enoch Nkwe, who was in the role in an interim capacity in 2019. Nkwe succeeded Gibson, whose contract was not renewed after the 2019 World Cup, and took South Africa on an all-format tour of India. South Africa drew the T20I series but were swept 3-nil in the Test series, their second successive Test series defeat in India. Nkwe returned home to an administrative storm, in which several CSA senior staff including former CEO Thabang Moroe (who appointed Nkwe) were suspended and an acting executive was put in place.

Graeme Smith then took over as DOC and appointed Boucher head coach, while retaining Nkwe as his assistant. Nkwe remained in the role until August 2021, when he resigned, citing concerns with the team culture. When Smith opted not to seek an extension in his role, Nkwe was then appointed DOC. He has been in the role since July and, in his first major decision, has appointed Maketa. It is understood that no performance criteria have been placed on Maketa for the Australia trip.

“He is a familiar face to the environment and has worked in the same space previously when he served as assistant coach,” Nkwe said. “[He] 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.”

South Africa currently lie second on the World Test Championship points table and the Australia series is their penultimate one of the 2021-2023 cycle. Victory in Australia – where they have won their last three series – will take them a significant way towards the final, and complete a turnaround that began under Boucher. South Africa were ranked as low as seventh at one point in Boucher’s tenure and have only lost one out of their last four series.
Boucher has been in charge of the team since December 2019 and led South Africa to 11 Test wins, including a memorable 2-1 home series victory against India in January this year, and took them close to qualifying for the 2021 T20 World Cup semi-final after five successive wins in a row. His contract was due to run until the 2023 ODI World Cup, which was originally set to take place for February-March next year but has been moved to October-November due to rejigs to the cricketing calendar after the Covid-19 pandemic. Boucher has taken up a role at Mumbai Indians.

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