Coach Neil McKenzie. Picture: INDRANI MUKHERJEE / AFP
Coach Neil McKenzie. Picture: INDRANI MUKHERJEE / AFP

After his successful stint as Bangladesh’s batting coach‚ Neil McKenzie has returned to Cricket SA as the high performance batting lead coach.

Being the lead means McKenzie will be used as the batting coach by all the national teams‚ with the same being applicable to the long-serving Vincent Barnes as the bowling lead.

Barnes‚ who has served as the high performance manager and a former national team bowling coach‚ will be the bowling point of reference for all the national teams.

Former Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa was appointed as the SA A and National Academy lead coach while Shukri Conrad has replaced Lawrence Mahatlane as the SA under-19 national team coach.

Edward Khoza continues in his role as the acting head of cricket pathways while Dinesha Devnarain is the under-19 women’s and Women’s National Academy head coach.

The appointments of Maketa‚ Barnes and McKenzie are significant as these roles were filled on a temporary basis. Maketa was left floating in the Cricket SA system after Ottis Gibson’s departure at the end of 2019’s dismal World Cup showing in England.

SA’s bowling will need Barnes’s astute bowling mind and management‚ especially with the young but talented crop that has come through in light of a raft of retirements in the past two years.

It is in the batting where SA have to jack up their act‚ especially after the four-Test series against England where the Proteas failed to score a Test 100 across eight innings in the matches.

McKenzie did wonders with a highly talented and experienced Bangladesh batting unit. SA’s batting group is young but needs a guiding hand‚ while the women’s batting group that McKenzie may also be roped in to oversee is brimming with excellence and confidence.

Cricket SA director of cricket Graeme Smith said the calibre of the senior coaches at their disposal will be of huge benefit to  the national teams.

“The goal is to make sure SA 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 Malibongwe and the other high-performance coaches can provide that and also develop the game‚” Smith said.

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