The mutual feelings exhibited offer signs of a bright future even if it is only a few days since Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) announced Laurence Mahatlane as new national men’s team coach.
Mahatlane beat 13 other candidates to a three-year contract with the Cricket Cranes and this is a job that sets the South African out of his zone.
The 43-year-old had spent almost 25 years grooming talent including leading his nation to three ICC Under-19 World Cup shows in his last six-year stint.
“I have spent most of my time in South Africa,” Mahatlane said in a phone chat with Vision View Sports Radio in Randburg early this week.
“I thank Cricket South Africa for the opportunity and sometimes it’s just about taking a new direction and trying to create a new energy,” he said.
Historically, cricket is a sport where blacks struggled to breakthrough in the Rainbow Nation but now, Mahatlane is focusing on a long haul with Uganda.
“You need to do the hard craft and the hard job. And what the future holds, only the man above knows but I am very excited about this opportunity and hopefully I will grow,” he said.
“I hope it’s not only three years but who knows, maybe ten years in Uganda who knows? Maybe Uganda can go on and follow the journey path that Bangladesh and Afghanistan took..”
It is not just about replacing Kenyan Steve Tikolo who left the job
in mid-January after helping Uganda win round one of the ICC World Cup Challenge League B.
But therein lies the big value of the Cricket Cranes job to Mahatlane.
“I applied for the post and went through the interview process. It was not tough at all,” explained to this paper why he chose to pursue this job.
“I have watched a lot of teams in my career and based on natural athletic ability, I believe the Cranes are up there with the best I have seen.
“So hopefully, I can be part of making the world stage come true. Also, an opportunity to live in the Pearl of Africa doesn’t come too often.”
It may take a while for the humble character to come to Kampala for duty because of travel restrictions still in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Getting down to work
However, Mahatlane is already fitting in digitally. After exchanging pleasantries over the years with Tikolo, he reportedly had interactions with team manager Jackson Kavuma, his assistant to be Jackson Ogwang and now plans on making early inroads into the players’ circle.
“I will be chatting this week to see whether I can travel for work from the South African point of view but we are just waiting for Uganda because the airports are closed.
“So we will start doing a bit of work online. We will start doing a couple of Zoom sessions. Like from the general point of view,” he added.
The postponement of the second round of the WCCL B, which was to be hosted in Kampala from August 3-13, could offer Mahatlane more time to firmly grip his mastery on the Cranes’ style.