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Allan Donald became the latest high-profile coaching signing by the Central Gauteng Lions. He joined head coach Russell Domingo, centre, and assistant coach Jimmy Kgamadi at the Wanderers this week. Picture: SUPPLIED
Allan Donald became the latest high-profile coaching signing by the Central Gauteng Lions. He joined head coach Russell Domingo, centre, and assistant coach Jimmy Kgamadi at the Wanderers this week. Picture: SUPPLIED

Allan Donald was missing his grandchild and home in general, so the prospect of returning to SA and working with the Central Gauteng Lions was enticing enough, and then he saw Kwena Maphaka up close.        

“He’s just so natural, a natural athlete with natural rhythm and he’s so strong. What an impressive young kid,” said Donald.

That was Monday, Donald’s first session in his new job as the Lions’ bowling coach. On Tuesday, in his second training session with the Lions, Donald got to study Maphaka a bit closer.

“I always said I would have loved to be a left-arm quick. They seem to make it look so easy. He’s got the pace already and he swings it late. His ceiling is so incredibly high.” 

Working with Maphaka has put a smile on Donald’s face, which had disappeared over the course of what Donald described as a “frustrating” World Cup campaign with Bangladesh. Donald was part of the Tigers’ coaching staff but admitted the “timed out” incident involving Shakib Al-Hasan and Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews had left a “sour taste”.

“I know it is in the rules, but that’s not how I like to play cricket.” 

That incident came on the back of a number of bizarre selections, which, with challenging communication between coaches and administrators and him missing his family, pushed the 57-year-old to accept an offer to return to work in SA. 

Donald, who played 72 Tests for the Proteas and took 330 wickets, adds more gravitas to an already high-powered coaching team at the Wanderers, where Russell Domingo is head coach, Hashim Amla is batting coach and Prasanna Agoram the technical analyst.

“It’s awesome to be back working with Russ again,” said Donald. 

The pair had worked together when Domingo was Bangladesh’s head coach.

“He’s so calm and collected and brings no stress into a dressing room. He builds solid relationships with players and does not try to be a smart-arse,” Donald said of the former Proteas coach. 

Given Donald’s own laid-back nature and Amla’s chilled outlook, it appears the Lions' coaching structure is embracing Zen-ness

“There is a time and place to fire people up,” said Donald, “it’s about choosing the right time.” 

While he acknowledges his time working with Bangladesh’s bowlers was enjoyable, Donald also admitted that being home and coaching young talent such as Maphaka and rekindling ties with Kagiso Rabada — who he oversaw when he was briefly Proteas bowling coach — is exciting. 

“There is a balance to be struck. Obviously, you want to direct a young player onto the right path, but you are also aware you must listen to them. I want to know what [Maphaka’s] expectations are.

“It’s similar to when I worked with Gerald Coetzee. These guys are ambitious and sometimes your role as coach is to remind them not to worry about why they’re not being picked for the Proteas, [that] no-one has a right to be selected, but to focus on what they have to do right in front of them.

“With Gerald it was performing for the Knights, and for Kwena it will be the same for the Lions.

“You also don’t want to overwhelm a young player like that with too much information. You want to let him be him.”

Maphaka may be included in the Lions squad for their four-day match against the Warriors that starts in Gqeberha on Thursday. 

Donald’s role will extend beyond the senior men’s team to the under-19s and throughout the province and the rest of the development pipeline.


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