Scars of loss a warning from the Proteas
Coach: The life and soccer times of Clive Barker is an insightful biography that will be launched in Johannesburg on Thursday. Author Michael Marnewick helps Barker reveal himself in this book. Here he speaks of his early love for football
The first half of this year has seen some of the most destructive cricket being played in the women’s game, with the Proteas dishing it out and also having to endure more than a few devastating losses.
On the recently completed limited-overs tour to England, the Proteas felt the brunt of the English when they took them on during their three-match ICC Women’s Championship clash. They were then comprehensively thrashed by New Zealand, whom they faced as part of the T20 triseries in England.
Coming off a first series whitewash of Bangladesh at home, beating them 5-0 in the oneday internationals (ODIs) and 3-0 in the T20s, the women in gold and green were confident and motivated for their tour to the land of the Queen.
Ahead of their opening encounter, captain Dane van Niekerk said: “A goal we’ve set as a team is to beat England at home. It won’t be easy, but that’s what we’re here for.”
And beat them they did in the opening match, although demolished might be a more accurate term. The historic win over the current world champions – the first win in England in 15 years – was down to the fast-bowling triple threat of Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp and Ayabonga Khaka. The trio ripped through the English batting order with such ferocity that they had them hanging by a thread or two at 97 for eight.
Instead of cutting the cloth cleanly, the Proteas allowed their hosts to cover themselves with some sort of pride as they limped to 189 for nine in 50 overs. That lack of killer instinct would haunt them throughout the tour.
Dropped catches at key moments, the letting up of pressure when bowling and a slow run rate when batting contributed to South Africa’s next two losses and, consequently, their ninth series loss.
These are not new issues for the team that also faced India at home this year. It relies heavily on the bowling attack, especially on Ismail, Kapp and Khaka. If these three are on song, that confidence permeates the rest of the dressing room. Earlier this year, Against India, who are ranked fourth in the world, South Africa bowled first in all three ODIs and failed to take 10 wickets in the first two, which they promptly lost. When they bowled India out in the third, South Africa’s pedestrian-like strike rate nearly cost them. Against Bangladesh, they failed to bowl the outfit out only once.
Adding to this sentiment is the fact that all three bowlers are in the top 10 of the ICC’s ODI bowling rankings. Despite this, there is one area that coach Hilton Moreeng wants the team to improve on.
“Discipline, especially in the middle overs, hasn’t been good, and we let ourselves down with a lot of boundary deliveries as well as summing up conditions, which takes us a bit longer.”
A clear display was given in the second and third ODIs, when the bowlers bowled beautifully in the first 15 to 20 overs. After that, it was one-way traffic for England as the lines and lengths of the bowlers started to look like a game of twister.
The Proteas need to improve their all-round batting effort and be more clinical on the field if they want to start knocking on title doors and stomping on series wins.
In match two, the Proteas dropped Sarah Taylor on 30, and she went on to make 118 for a player of the match performance. In match three, they dropped Heather Knight on two in the 18th over, while having England on the ropes at 59/2. The English captain went on to score 80 not out and lead her side to the series win.
“We have identified the batting and fielding as something that needs a 360° turnaround, and each and every player has recognised this and realised that we need to up our game,” Moreeng said.
Opener Lizelle Lee has been the player of the season so far, racking up 541 ODI runs and 281 T20 runs, as well as notching her first century this year in belligerent style. Supported by teen sensation Laura Wolvaardt – who became the youngest player to get 12 ODI half-centuries – the opening pair are critical to South Africa’s batting efforts. If either fails, number three ODI all-rounder in the world Van Niekerk can usually lift the team, as she did a few times in England. Beyond that, however, it’s been inconsistent and sometimes cringeworthy to watch as collapses and slow run rates continue to plague the Proteas’ batting performance.
This inconsistency needs to be addressed, said Moreeng, who was disappointed that the players did not get 80-plus scores consistently. If they are to challenge the big four of Australia, England, New Zealand and India, they will have to do a lot better.
The Proteas now look forward to a tour in the West Indies, where they will again look to add to their ICC Women’s Championship tally, which is a qualification tournament for the 2021 World Cup, as well as prepare for the World T20 tournament, which is set to take place in the Caribbean in November. They will play Sri Lanka, England, current T20 champions West Indies and a qualifier that is still to be determined.
The Proteas might have had their wings shed and even shredded, but you better believe that they will rise again bearing the scars of this tour as a warning to any team willing to underestimate them.
Chapter one: Humble beginnings “Football has been my life, my passion.” – Clive Barker There hasn’t been a day in nearly 65 years that I haven’t been involved in football or thought about the game in one way or another, be it playing or coaching. It has brought me immense satisfaction, as well as frustration, plenty of grey hair, but also much joy.
I’ve travelled the world, met great people, coached wonderful players and fantastic teams and, in all of this, I feel very privileged to have played some small role in the development of a sport revered by millions. South Africa was badly fractured by apartheid, but, through it all, football played a significant role in unifying the nation when it needed harmony.
Some of my harshest critics believed that, as a white coach in a black-dominated sport, taking me for a foreigner, I would be out of touch and unable to grasp the complexities of South African football. It was probably my greatest frustration with the local press and a view I considered insulting. I was at pains to rectify this whenever the issue was raised. I guess the misperception was born out of the fact that it was unusual for a white South African to be involved, at a coaching level, in what was considered to be a black sport in the 1970s and 1980s.
Even today, people are under that impression, so let me put the doubters to rest that I’m a South African through and through – born on June 19 1944 in Bellair, a suburb of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.
My dad, Robert Lawrence Barker, played in the midfield for the local football team – Hillary Football Club – and boxed at an amateur level, going on to represent Natal. He could also play the banjo and, together with my mother’s skill on the piano, many a fine tune would be played on a Saturday night. I don’t think it’s any surprise or coincidence that football, boxing and music have played their part in my life.
My mother, Patricia Amelia Mary, was a dance instructor with a studio at the Sea View MOTH Hall in Bellair and when Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret came out to South Africa with their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, in 1947, my mom danced for them at a tea party – Mom’s claim to fame.
Recently, I visited a local church near my home in Glenwood, and waited until after the service to chat with the organ player, thanking him for playing so beautifully. His enthusiasm had everyone singing as if they had been accompanied by an orchestra. During our conversation, he asked if I was the football man, and I told him I was. He said that he wanted to share something with me: “I watched your mother dance to a song called Sleepy Lagoon, and I’ll never forget how beautifully she moved.”
It was marvellous that this stranger was able to remember Mom dance more than 70 years ago; it filled me with immense pride.
My sister Penny was a laatlammetjie, but the idol of our family, and my wife Yvonne had a huge influence in bringing her up. Together, my brothers Lawrie and Arthur and I would spend every afternoon in the garden kicking the ball around until the radio programme Superman would come on and we’d forgo our heroics for those of our superhero.
Sadly, my mom and dad both died at the tender age of 46; how I wish we could have this time again.
My recollection of growing up in Bellair is filled with happy memories … I attended a wonderful school, Bellair Primary, and was given every opportunity to succeed. Bellair Primary was very small – I recall there being about 10 pupils in my class, but, realistically, there were probably more than that. When you’re little, the world is a big place, but your immediate surroundings seem much smaller. This was a football-playing school; the deputy principal, Mr McMillan, was fanatical about the sport and I needed little encouragement to participate. Bellair Primary provided me with a fabulous upbringing and I’m happy to report that the school is still in existence today.
I recall one particular teacher, Mrs Hesom, writing in one of my reports: “A charming manner won’t get you through life – you’ll have to go out and work a lot harder.”
This was my first lesson in life. Because my mother was a dance teacher, we would put together a show each year to collect money for the MOTHs in Sea View and Bellair. It was a tradition for me to get up on stage and open the concert singing There’s no Business like Show Business and copy the likes of Frank Sinatra.
But my performing days lasted only as long as I was the cute kid singing on stage. Football took over in a big way and the sport consumed me completely. Every present I received would be related to football.
Every Friday night, I would clean my boots until they were spotless and then wash the laces, and on Saturday morning my mates and I would catch a train to Central Station in Durban. We would make our way to the football field and the Under-11s would start the day’s action. It was a big thing to represent your school against the other local schools.
We would finish the game breathless but excited, hoping that someone wouldn’t turn up for the Under-13 match that followed. That way, if you were good enough, the coaches might ask you to come play again; the likelihood of playing two matches in the morning was pretty high. Later, the first team would play in the league from which the Natal team was eventually selected.
My high school days were spent at Glenwood Boys’ High, which was not a soccer school – not at all – and it was a tough time for me. In fact, because of the pressure they had put on him to play rugby instead of football, my brother left Glenwood, knowing the school’s sporting priorities – that rugby was for white people and football for the black population – would limit his sporting opportunities. He slipped out for Natal Schools’ trials and was caught. Eventually, my father removed Arthur and sent him to school in Queensburgh. I think the really negative sentiment towards football was because they were protecting rugby.
I was able to keep up my footballing by playing for the Berea Park Under-14 to Under-16 teams, but, just as I was about to start playing professionally, the school informed me in no uncertain terms that I would be playing rugby. Norman Elliott and John Watkins from Durban City went to see Mr JB Colam, the Glenwood principal, to try to coax him into allowing me to stick with football, but without success.
Thus began a shining career in rugby that lasted all of 80 minutes. My first match was against St Henry’s and my less than superb performance must have convinced them that my future lay with a round rather than an oval ball. I’m happy to report that I was subsequently released from rugby duty to play football for Durban City.
My academic record at high school probably mirrors my prowess on the rugby field. When I was preparing to write exams, I would move in with my grandparents because my granny looked after us so well. It didn’t help me pass, though – I was thicker than two short planks.
In 1960, I signed my first playing contract with Durban City. I was only 16 and, because of my young age and small stature, was nicknamed the Darling of Kingsmead.
It was a daunting experience playing at such a young age in the top league, but I was determined to realise my dream of playing at that level – with the hope of one day going across to play in England.
My progress was hampered when I damaged my knee playing against Rangers in Johannesburg. I went up for a challenge and came down awkwardly, tearing ligaments in my knee.
● This is Marnewick’s fifth book. He is a
lifetime friend of the Barker family
ON SONG Proteas opener Lizelle Lee has been in peak form this year
Coach: The life and soccer times of Clive Barker
Publisher: Jacana Media
Biography/memoir Available at all good bookstores