Dean Laing is leaving Jeppe after coaching cricket at the school since 2010. He is emigrating to the UK where he will take up the position of head of the Rugby School Cricket Academy and fast bowling specialist coach at Rugby School.
He matriculated in 1988 and played for the SA Schools team that year. He represented the Transvaal and later the Lions provincial teams for the next 10 years.
His first stint of coaching at Jeppe was in 2004 and his 1st team that year made it into the final of the Johnny Waite Knockout competition. They were the 1st, and only other team to do that, until this year’s side won the Trophy.
He then coached club cricket, but was back at Jeppe in 2010, as Director of Cricket and 1st team coach. All the while, he was building his other career – that of financial adviser – and all his work at Jeppe has been part time in nature.
Mr Mike Bechet was appointed Director of Cricket in 2015 and Dean moved to the under-14s, where has been ever since.
And it has been a good nine years, he said. “My aim was to teach the newcomers to the school the Jeppe way of playing cricket,” he said. “I define that as going deep, preserving your wicket, bowling aggressively, fielding well, and building the Jeppe brotherhood. I think I’ve been fairly successful and the number of cricketers that started with me and went on to become good players for the school shows that.”
He singles out Jaydon Brooker, this year’s 1st team captain as an example. “He had the best cricket mind out of all the U14s I coached,” he said. Others who stand out for him over the years are Dylan Nicholas, Sipho Potsane and Zizi Mkhize.
As far as team performances go, his highlight was the 2017 U14 team’s win over KES, his first as a coach. “That team was unbeaten. They beat Affies up here and all the schools from around the country that we played in festivals. I had said that I would retire when a team of mine beat KES, but I didn’t and we have won three times more since then.”
Dean’s move has been prompted by the fact that his entire family is in the UK now. “My daughter is there, with my grandson, as is my son and my father,” he said. “But the real reason is that I am going to be able to live my dream of being fully involved with cricket.
“I was quite ill during the Covid pandemic and I realised then that although I made my living as a financial adviser, my real passion is cricket. This opportunity allows me to follow that. I will still be running my financial business from over there, but my future, I hope, will be in the game I have always loved.”
Dean Laing has passed on that love of cricket to generations of Jeppe boys. We wish him well, but we are going to miss him.