The cricket fraternity is looking forward to better days after Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) announced South African Laurence Mahatlane as new national men’s coach over the weekend.
“We are very excited to have a coach of such calibre in the setup,” said UCA Chief Executive Martin Ondeko of Kenyan Steve Tikolo’s replacement.
Mahatlane, who boasts of almost 25 years experience in coaching youth, beat 13 other candidates from India, United Arab Emirates, Australia and Kenya to replace Tikolo with a threeyear contract. “Candidates were scored against certain criteria such as education, experience, motivational and organizational skills and he scored higher,” said Ondeko.
Waiting game With travel restrictions still in place and sport still suspended in the country since March, the fraternity will keep on their toes for a while in wait for Mahatlane. “I am very excited with the opportunity to be part of the Cricket Cranes family,” said Mahtlane in an acceptance email seen by this publication.
“Looking forward to working with Brian (Masaba) and the rest of the team in taking the team forward,” said the former South Africa U-19 coach, who is credited with nurturing a handful of South African talents like Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Verreynne and Wiaan Moulder and Lutho
Sipamla into forces on the global scene. The 43-year-old is the fifth man in 12 years from South African to hold the job. “With the world and country facing difficult times, I hope we can bring some smiles and joy to the country with the way we play our cricket,” added the experienced youth coach. If things were normal, Mahatlane would have probably been announced prior and the Cricket Cranes would be in final preparations ahead of the second round of the ICC World Cup Challenge League B on home soil in August.
At the time Tikolo left the job in mid-January, two months after helping Uganda win round one of the WCCL B in Oman, Mahatlane was still busy back home.
SA’s loss, Uganda’s gain
Mahatlane spent six years as a coach with Cricket South Africa (CSA) and was in charge for three ICC Under-19 World Cups where they finished 11th, fifth and eighth. “When we hosted the U-19 World Cup, his mandate was to do well and his contract extension depended on it. They experimented a lot with that squad because he lost so many of his players due to age,” Khuliso Nemarimela, a journalist with Kaya FM in Johannesburg, said of Mahatlane’s departure.
"But there was always a belief that he wouldn’t stay on after the World Cup because CSA wanted someone new to take over,” he added.
However, Uganda could have secured a gem from the Rainbow Nation to try to heal the country’s batting Achilles’ heel. “He’s really good,” Khuliso’s colleague Busisiwe Mokwena chips in. During his tenure, Mahatlane who is also a well-known commentator for cricket and rugby, worked with legend Makhaya Ntini’s son Thando.
“Player development was one thing that stood out for him at U-19. He could take an average kid from high school and turn them into pros with ease,” said Khuliso. But it may take Mahatlane time to settle in at a bigger role with an ICC Associate nation like Uganda. For now, the Cricket Cranes cannot await for his arrival.
Cricket Cranes coaches
1998-April 2001: William Kamanyi
April 2001-Dec 2003: Andrew Meya
Dec 2003-Aug 2004: Tom Tikolo (KEN)
Sep 2004-Mar 2007: Henry Okecho
April 2007-Nov 2007: Sam Walusimbi
Nov 2007-Jul 2008: Francis N Otieno (KEN)
Jul 2008-Oct 2010: Mohamed Barney (RSA)
Oct 2010-Jan 2011: Conrad Shukri (RSA)
Feb 2011-May 2013: Martin Suji (KEN)
May 2013-Jul 2013: Henry Okecho
July 2013-Feb 2014: Johan Rudolph (RSA)
Apr 2014-Aug 2014: Davis Turinawe
Aug 2014-Jan 2016: Peter Kirsten (RSA)
May 2016-Dec 2019: Steve Tikolo (KEN)
Jan 2020-May 2020: Davis Turinawe