TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
“MAYBE I’m a good omen — if you want to work for South Africa come and work with me.” If that makes Piet Botha sound egotistical, nothing could be further from the truth.
The former Transvaal and Border allrounder, who is now Eastern Province’s coach, is about as self-effacing as cricketers get.
But he has a point. He served as the Warriors’ assistant coach to Mickey Arthur and Russell Domingo, and Adrian Birrell was his assistant at the franchise.
Arthur and Domingo went on to coach South Africa and Birrell became Domingo’s assistant.
Now Malibongwe Maketa, who was Botha’s assistant before succeeding him as Warriors head coach, has been named Ottis Gibson’s assistant with the national team.
What did Botha think of Maketa’s appointment?
“It’s very good for him,” Botha said on Thursday. “He was always going to be a coach for the future and I’m glad he got his opportunity quite early.
“He worked with me for a year-and-a-bit when I was Warriors coach, and I tried my best to get him in because I saw his value when he worked for Northerns.”
By then Botha and Maketa had known each other for several years, at least from the distance of 22 yards.
Botha moved from Johannesburg to East London in 1992 to play for Border, who had been promoted to the A section of the Currie Cup the season before.
Back then provincial cricketers played for clubs, and when Botha opened the batting for Buffaloes against Ian Howell’s King William’s Town side he encountered a tearaway quick who was still at Dale College.
As Botha remembered: “Malibongwe was a competitive cricketer and you knew he was going to go places.”
But not as a player: Maketa’s record shows only one first-class and one list A game.
“He was very highly rated as a fast bowler at school but like so many he ended up with a stress fracture at an early age,” Botha said. “Fortunately he stayed in cricket.”
Now, at 37, Maketa has made it to the top level. He replaces Birrell, while Dale Benkenstein comes in for Neil McKenzie as batting coach and Craig Govender is the physiotherapist in place of Brandon Jackson, who has been the job since 2009. Justin Ontong will fill the vacant position of fielding coach.
The changes, which were made in the wake of Ottis Gibson’s appointment as head coach in August, were announced in a Cricket South Africa (CSA) release on Thursday.
Claude Henderson stays on as spin consultant, as do fitness trainer Greg King and technical analyst Prasanna Agoram.
CSA’s board have extended Mohammed Moosajee’s contract as team manager until April 2018.
And in the Eastern Cape an unsung coaching talent-spotter has notched another success.