The fact that almost all of them have international playing experience was first and foremost in fast bowler Lutho Sipamla’s mind this week when he spoke about the effect the Proteas coaching staff have had on his fledgling career for South Africa.
Since making his Proteas debut in a T20 match against Pakistan at the Wanderers in February las year, the 22-year-old Sipamla has played four ODIs and five T20 Internationals.
For all his inexperience, however, he has been quick to recognise the value of all the experience around him.
“Guys like Charl Langeveldt, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and Justin Ontong have walked the talk. They know what it takes to be a good international cricketer,” Sipamla said.
“It’s awesome to have them as coaches because they have been in our shoes and they have done it all before. So they can relate to what we are going through because they’ve experienced it themselves.
“Someone like Charl, when it comes to bowling at the death, he’s had to defend six or seven runs to win the game and done that. So he knows the processes involved, he’s been successful and he passes that on to the bowlers.”
Bowling coach Langeveldt played 72 ODIs, but the respect he is held in by local cricketers suggests he should have played many more; head coach Boucher played 147 Tests and 295 ODIs; batting consultant Kallis is South Africa’s most-capped player ever with 166 Test and 328 ODI appearances; and fielding coach Ontong was unfortunate to play just two Tests, 14 ODIs and 28 T20 Internationals.
Last year was a pretty terrible one for the Proteas, but there were signs of the tide starting to turn when they whitewashed a powerful Australian side 3-0 in the ODI series which ended in March.
“It was a great experience making my debut in the limited-overs format and it was a really good win over Australia, a wonderful experience and a great time for me,” Sipamla said.
“We had a very young squad but we all worked together towards our goal and gelled nicely. We all knew what we had to do, everyone knew their roles and we were able to execute.
“In that campaign we all grew as individuals and players, and it was something special to be part of it. And now we’ve had a long wait to play again and I’m really excited just to get back to practice and crafting my skills again.
“As my dad always tells me when I’m having a tough time, I must just make sure I keep working hard and make sure I’m still doing all the right things.”