Allan Donald: I lost count how many times I applied to be head coach

Allan Donald. (Gallo Images)
Allan Donald. (Gallo Images)

Anyone who believes former top-level players get coaching gigs easier than those who didn't play competitively hasn't exactly followed Allan Donald's recent exploits too closely.

In February, almost 13 years of graft, extensive travel and saint-like patience finally culminated in the legendary Proteas fast bowler landing his first head coaching job.

And, almost as a cherry on top, that team is the Knights.

"It's just amazing how things work out. I really feels as if I've come full circle," Donald, who represented Free State for the duration of the first-class career for almost two decades, told Sport24.

"My dad always repeated the age-old proverb to me that there's always a time and place for everything. I just had to be patient and persevere."

What he didn't quite count on was how long it would eventually take.

Being the bowling coach - temporarily and permanently - of the Proteas, England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Warwickshire, Kent and Royal Challengers Bangalore comes with the inherent risk of becoming labelled.

"When I walked into an interview room, I was considered a specialist. I waited so long to be given a headline role," said Donald.

"I actually lost count how many times I've applied for a head coaching position these past few years. But it's worked out perfectly. The time is now, I can't wait to get stuck in." 

Despite his travels, the 53-year-old won't have to acquainthimself with the Knights' structures, having previously worked as a consultant for Nicky Boje as well as a pipeline coach late last year which paved the way for his appointment.

Pleasingly, Donald becomes the latest former international - he took over 500 wickets for the Proteas - to coach at franchise level.

It continues a recent trend of South African cricket's intellectual capital being bolstered.

"Having guys like Ashwell Prince, Robin Peterson, Imraan Khan and Mark Boucher coaching locally is massive," said Donald.

"I believe guys like us are extensions of the player role models younger guys look for. Their spongues, they actively want to hear about a player's exploits and how he dealt with various things.

"Unfortunately, we've seen in the past that our really experienced stars don't stay in the domestic system after they retire from internationals. That's how the professional game has evolved. So, in the end, we in a sense fulfill the dual role of coach and former player. That's why I hope we can find a way to reintegrate any returning Kolpak players in future. 

"They'll be great for the system."   

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