Massive stepping stone for me: Dinesha Devnarain

Dinesha Devnarain. © Getty Images

It’s definitely hard for someone who has devoted most part of her career to a club developing young talents, to move on, but for Dinesha Devnarain, it was admittedly the best decision she made. The former South African allrounder was, on Monday (April 6), appointed as the South Africa Under-19 and National Academy head coach, thus becoming the first black female coach to earn a dual role, underlining Cricket South Africa’s efforts to strengthen and encourage diversity in the women’s game.

“I had to tell the girls myself and not let them find out via social media so I broke the news to them on April Fool’s day and they thought that I was joking!” Devnarain said in a CSA statement. “It was not an easy decision for me as KZN (KwaZulu Natal) Cricket is more like a family to me than a job but I knew that I had to move on for my career.”

The 31-year-old spent her entire career with KwaZulu Natal Cricket and has been at the helm as player and coach for the better part of two decades. Despite feeling excited by the opportunity she said she was emotional about leaving the province that she has dedicated so much of her life to.

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“This is a massive stepping stone for me in my career and I am looking forward to hitting the ground running in June with the national academy,” she said. “I don’t think that there was anything else for me to do here – I had done all I could for these girls. I would like to think that I have left women’s cricket in KZN in a better place than when I started here and I hope that whoever takes over will continue to grow the legacy and ethos of women’s cricket here,” she added candidly.

With the current lockdown in place as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in South Africa, Devnarain has got some time to prepare for her first assignment which will be with the national academy in June. “We were supposed to be playing an Under-19 tri-series with England and Australia and that would have been a really tough start, given that our national week in December was rained out so we didn’t have much to go on,” added Devnarain, who played 29 ODIs and 22 T20Is for the country.

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“With the COVID-19 outbreak that was cancelled and I can focus all my immediate attention on the national academy intake in a few months’ time. I want to do things differently and I feel that knowledge of the game is not where it should be. We want the girls to be as professional as possible when they go back to their provinces and be ambassadors of the game in their provinces when they leave the academy,” she mentioned.

According to the KZN Cricket Union CEO, Heinrich Strydom, one of the main goals of the KZN Cricket system is to produce world-class players, coaches and administrators. “Dinesha’s role in improving women’s cricket in KZN has been unparalleled and we are sad to see her go,” he said. “However, to see her moving into a national coaching role is hugely satisfying and we wish her all the best in her dual role with Cricket South Africa.”