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

CityPress - - Sport - MUHAM­MAD HUS­SAIN muham­mad.hus­sain@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: ANDREW BOYERS / REUTERS

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

Pages: 248

Rec­om­mended price:

Bi­og­ra­phy/mem­oir Avail­able at all good book­stores

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