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Biff starts SA cricket revamp

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After weeks of drama Graeme Smith finally got to do the work he is being paid by Cricket SA to do.

Graeme Smith. Picture: Muzi Ntombela BackpagePix.

AFTER weeks of drama Graeme Smith finally got to do the work he is being paid by Cricket SA to do: put structures in place to ensure the Proteas become a force to be reckoned with in international cricket again.

After hastily putting together the national team’s management group prior to the England tour, Smith has been able to spend significantly more time finding high quality coaching resources to serve the Proteas pipeline.

Former Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa has been brought back into the system as South Africa A coach after being in the coaching wilderness since last year’s World Cup disaster.

Neil Mckenzie also returns after a stint as Bangladesh’s batting coach as the High Performance batting lead. McKenzie will work with all national teams from the Proteas downwards, not exclusively with the Proteas.

Another former Proteas assistant coach ,Vincent Barnes, remains the High Performance Manager, but will also perform the role of bowling lead.

Smith may though have pulled a rabbit out of the hat in regards to the SA Under-19 coaching position with the appointment of the hugely-experienced Shukri Conrad.

The former title-winning coach with the Cape Cobras and Highveld Strikers has been doing sterling work with the National Academy and could just be the coach to turn around the fortunes of the SA Under-19 side after a few disappointing years.

“The goal is to make sure that South African cricket is strong. We’ve got a really powerful group of cricketers coming through that can only strengthen the national side and can challenge players in the national team. I feel that Malibongwe and the other High-Performance coaches can provide that and also develop the game,” Smith said.

“Shukri has been around South African cricket also for a lengthy period of time, at franchise level, in High Performance and the A team.

“I like Shukri’s style; he’s old-school, he’s to the point and gets the job done. I think at that level, his coaching expertise and knowledge of the game is going to be key. The other thing is talent identification, I think that’s a real strength of Shukri’s ability as a coach and he’s got good support (in the form of scouts).

“We’ll all sit down as a group and debate and work on our way forward and try and align as closely as we can to the national teams as we can – in terms of culture, in terms of performance, in terms of what’s needed – to hopefully push us to a level where our national teams are the best in the world, that they’re winning World Cups, that we’re bringing talent through and we’re transforming at a level that will be acceptable to everybody.

“Those are the goals with these appointments,” Smith concluded.