Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
Hilton Moreeng has been reappointed as the head coach of the South African women's team on a three-year deal. His new contract runs until 2023 and includes both the 2021 ODI World Cup and the 2022 T20 World Cup due to be held in New Zealand and South Africa respectively, and will take Moreeng's tenure in the role to 11 years, since he was first appointed in 2012.
Moreeng's previous contract came to an end in March, after the T20 World Cup in Australia, where South Africa reached the semi-finals. He chose to reapply for the post and was among three shortlisted candidates, and the decision was made to keep Moreeng in the role, bearing in mind imminent major tournaments.
"Hilton has built the squad from a very talented environment into a high-performing unit and a team that can challenge the top three or four nations consistently," Graeme Smith, CSA's director of cricket said. "Results this year in New Zealand and at the T20 World Cup speak volumes of Hilton and Dane [van Niekerk]'s leadership and through the review process, we realised he is the right man to take the team forward and hopefully onto greater things and World Cups in the future."
Under Moreeng, the South African women's team reached two T20 semi-finals (2014 and 2020) and one fifty-over World Cup semi-final (2017) and achieved automatic qualification for the 2021 ODI World Cup by beating the hosts New Zealand 3-0 in an ODI series earlier this year. That meant they did not have to rely on the home series against Australia, which was due to be played in March but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, to secure their spot at next year's tournament. They have also had a series in West Indies pushed back.
The women's team, however, could see themselves back on the park before the men, with talks between CSA and the ECB on about a triangular series, also involving India, later this year. "The tour is very much in the pipeline for September," Smith said.
That means the women's team are set to return to training imminently, after CSA was given the green light last Monday to let its players resume training. They will also be given as much information as possible about playing in a bio-bubble and touring for an extended period of time, which may include a larger squad than normal. "We discussed with the management team and the ladies this morning, to take them through the return to play medical protocols and trying to get them to understand how cricket will look in England over that period and the quarantine periods that are required," Smith said. "The tour can become very long so we must just decide what the right timing for a build-up is. There's 14 days quarantine either side of a tour and a long tour, so it can become very taxing. There is an element of trying to decide how big your squads need to be when they travel, so there are a lot of learnings and new discussions that needs to happen."
If the series goes ahead it will be an important part of South Africa's build-up to next year's World Cup, an event they have been earmarked as theirs to win. "For us, the focus now is that we are five months away from a World Cup and we have to give it everything we have," Moreeng said. "It's a World Cup we have planned and we have a built a squad we believe can go and win this World Cup. So far, the building blocks are very good and we have assembled one of the best ODI teams in a very long time. When you look back at how the team performed in January, to be able to give New Zealand a whitewash on their own soil, it showed the character of the team. The World Cup is back there again so everyone is familiar with conditions and we have a great opportunity."
CSA has two other appointments still to make - the national men's convenor of selectors and the national Under-19 coach - which are expected in the next few weeks. Linda Zondi, who served as independent selector for the 2019/20 season and was previously South Africa men's convener of selectors, is in the running for his old job but a new U-19 coach is on the cards after Lawrence Mahatlane accepted the position of head coach of Uganda.