Shukri Conrad says he fulfilled his and his father’s lifelong dream by becoming the Proteas’ Test head coach.
Conrad’s appointment was confirmed by CSA on Monday.
In an interview with News24, the 55-year-old revealed his dad, Dickie, started crying when he told him the news.
“Apart from my wife, he’s probably my biggest fan,” Shukri said. “He loves his cricket. He watches every bit of cricket and he’s thrilled to bits that I’ve got this job now.
“We’re a very close-knit family and I’m the only son of four. I didn’t want to tell my father too early because I knew the excitement levels.
“He was reduced to tears, man. And seeing that joy in his face – I’m choking up as I speak – and what he’d gone through, including losing my late mother, the fulcrum of the family, the strong one … ultimately it was only ever about cricket.
“A motto in our family is that the game will look after you if you look after it. And be careful of mother cricket.”
Shukri says his father was “a hell of a cricketer, an opening bat” who starred in the SACOS league.
Dickie is also remembered for breaking the apartheid-era law forbidding people of colour to enter cricket establishments when he snuck into Newlands to watch a match. It saw him banned from cricket at the time, but didn’t diminish his love for the game.
Conrad takes a wealth of experience into his new job, having coached the Highveld Lions and Cape Cobras during SA’s franchise era.
His most recent role, as SA U19 coach, should prove invaluable given the rebuilding job required with the Proteas Test team.
“When one sets out to coach or gets into any position, you want to reach the pinnacle and test yourself at the highest level,” he said.
“There are times when you think it will never happen. But I guess it’s all about timing.
“I feel I’m as well-prepared as I can be, but I also don’t know if anything really prepares you for taking on a job as big as this.
“But I certainly feel the experience I’ve built up over the years will stand me in good stead as well.
“With age comes a lot of common sense as well. You become a bit more diplomatic as well.”