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Hilton Moreeng's stint as head coach of South Africa women's team ends after 11 years

Dillon du Preez will take over in an interim capacity for South Africa's tour of India with a new coach to be appointed after that

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
South Africa head coach Hilton Moreeng reacts before the game, Ireland vs South Africa, 1st women's T20I, Dublin, June 3, 2022

Hilton Moreeng became the South Africa head coach in 2013  •  Sportsfile via Getty Images

Long-serving South Africa Women head coach Hilton Moreeng's tenure has ended after a period of 11 years and four months.
Moreeng was originally appointed in the role in December 2012, and oversaw South Africa's transition to professionalism in 2014 and their greatest successes in the decade since. He took them to two ODI World Cup semi-finals, two T20 World Cup semi-finals, and was in charge when they became the first national senior side to reach a World Cup final, at home in the 2023 T20 World Cup. He was South Africa's first black African national coach.
Dillon du Preez, Moreeng's assistant since September 2020 and a former first-class cricketer, will take over from him in an interim capacity for South Africa's tour of India in June-July with a permanent coach to be appointed after that.
Moreeng's departure came after a period of short-term extensions to his contract since 2020 - originally for three years until after the 2023 T20 World Cup, and then for periods of time in the months that followed.
CSA have confirmed it was Moreeng's decision to step away.
"He opted not to continue. And the timing of it is not great, but we really respect and understand his position," Enoch Nkwe, South Africa's director of cricket, said at a press conference on Friday. "He's invested a lot, you know, obviously into women's cricket. He's taken this team from basically nothing to great heights. He's reached a point where, and he was completely honest, he needs to allow the next person to take the team to the next level."
In his latest extension, Moreeng was contracted for the 2023-24 season, initially until the end of 2023, and then until the end of the summer, after his contract expired last year. He was also retained in 2020 when CSA first appointed a director of cricket - Graeme Smith - who undertook a major overhaul of the organisation's coaching structures.
"We're going to be engaging with them later in the month, at a camp, to try and gauge, obviously, where they're feeling and where everybody's at. We also want to see how we can help Dillion to make sure that the team can pull in one direction, which I have no doubt he'll be able to do"
Enoch Nkwe on the transition
Most recently, Moreeng remained in the job despite senior players expressing unhappiness with the length of his tenure. In August last year, six months after South Africa reached the final of the T20 World Cup, a group of players wrote to CSA to express their desire for change, but ESPNcricinfo understands that the process to replace Moreeng was delayed, and he was allowed to continue. As it turned out, CSA changed the captain and replaced Sune Luus, who led at the T20 World Cup and prior to that in Dane van Niekerk's injury-enforced absence, with Laura Wolvaardt.
A process was then put in place to recruit Moreeng's replacement, who was expected to take over after the home series against Bangladesh last December, but that never happened. In early November, Nkwe told reporters that CSA "had interviews last week and we are still finalising a couple of things". "As soon as we are done with the post-interview process, we will be able to make an announcement," he said, and indicated the new support staff would be in place for South Africa's January-February tour to Australia. He has since said CSA was not satisfied with those who put their hands up for the job. "We did advertise the position and unfortunately we couldn't find the fitting candidates to take the team forward," Nkwe said. "We went into the process of headhunting as well and unfortunately we couldn't find anyone."
Moreeng then took South Africa to Australia, where they beat Australia for the first time in both a T20I and an ODI (though they lost both series) and was in charge for the home series against Sri Lanka. South Africa lost a T20I series to Sri Lanka for the first time and shared the ODI spoils, as Sri Lanka successfully completed the highest chase in women's ODIs. It was after the Sri Lanka series that Moreeng decided his time was up, Nkwe said.
CSA had initially hoped that Moreeng would continue until the 2025 World Cup, during which time they could plan a transition phase for his successor but "the process didn't work out as planned". Du Preez will now take the team to India and it is possible a new coach will be in place ahead of the T20 World Cup. Asked if the players are comfortable with du Preez, who has been in his role since September 2020, Nkwe suggested it may take some time for things to settle.
"They're still a little bit shocked because they didn't expect [Moreeng's departure] so soon; immediately at the end of the season. A lot of them are still processing what just transpired," Nkwe said. "We're going to be engaging with them later in the month, at a camp, to try and gauge, obviously, where they're feeling and where everybody's at. We also want to see how we can help Dillion to make sure that the team can pull in one direction, which I have no doubt he'll be able to do."
Asked if he would consider putting himself up for the job full-time, du Preez stayed on the fence, for now. "I see myself as someone who has to do this at this stage of my life. Whether or not I try to do it going forward, this will allow me to grow. I see it as a positive move, even if it is for a month or two," he said. "I think I will want to [have the job permanently] but it's too early to give you a 100% answer. But that's where you want to be, at the highest level. I would really want to coach there. I enjoy it a lot. But let's talk after India."
Du Preez also indicated he would not change too much to begin with, having been mentored by Moreeng. "He's been here for 11 years in this space and to learn from him, meant a lot to me. Whatever you know about cricket, the moment you move into the women's space, you actually find out that you might know nothing," du Preez said. "It's been an emotional week. Hilton has left big shoes for me to fill. What he has done for women's cricket, it feels like no one is going to match. I couldn't pick a better guy to learn from."
There is no suggestion that CSA will continue to look for a women's director of cricket, and that Moreeng could be considered for that. Nkwe said the former coach needs "time" to "continue reflecting and to see what his journey is going to look like moving forward". But, Nkwe said, CSA would be open to engaging Moreeng in the future. "From our point of view, we would like to retain him in whichever way, because you don't just let go of such experience, especially in women's cricket."
In parting, Moreeng offered thanks to everyone he met along the way. "It has been an honour and a privilege to lead such a talented group of athletes over the years," Moreeng said in a statement. "I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the players and team management who have been instrumental in this journey. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work alongside each of you. I would also like to thank the South African fans and the media for their unwavering support throughout this journey. Your encouragement has been a constant source of motivation. Last but certainly not least, I am deeply grateful to my family and friends who have stood by me through the highs and lows along the way. Your love and support have been my rock."
CSA has also appointed a new batting coach in Baakier Adams, previously with the Warriors provincial team, and Bongani Ndaba as fielding coach alongside a new physiotherapist Neline Hoffman-Kellerman.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket