Smuts makes Proteas T20 side

Grocott's Mail - - SPORT - By STEPHEN PEN­NEY

Old Graemian Jon-Jon Smuts has fi­nally been given a chance to play for the Proteas. Smuts is one of six new caps in the 13-man squad an­nounced by Cricket South Africa (CSA) ear­lier this week.

Speak­ing to Gro­cott’s Mail this week, Smuts said the 9.45pm call last week came as “quite a shock”. A call com­ing from CSA se­lec­tion con­vener Linda Zondi to in­form Smuts he was part of the 13-man squad for the first two T20 cricket games against Sri Lanka. Smuts said it was only this week, when he saw the press re­lease, that it re­ally sunk in.

Smuts cap­tained the War­riors to sec­ond place in the re­cent CSA T20 Chal­lenge, where he fin­ished as the top scorer in the com­pe­ti­tion.

He said he had fond me­mories of play­ing cricket for the Graeme first team, for which he set a num­ber of records, many of which are still stand­ing

Smuts said he owed much of his cricket ca­reer to his par­ents, es­pe­cially his fa­ther who would bowl to him dur­ing his school days.

“I owe my par­ents a lot for the sac­ri­fices they made,” said Smuts.

Smuts also ac­knowl­edged his for­mer school coach, Ian Sut­tie who is still a teacher at Graeme, with over 30 years’ ser­vice to cricket. He was es­pe­cially grate­ful to Sut­tie “for al­low­ing me to play for the first team”.

Farhaan Be­har­dien has been ap­pointed as stand-in cap­tain of the Stan­dard Bank Proteas for the first two matches in the KFC T20 In­ter­na­tional Se­ries against Sri Lanka.

For­mer Graemian and for­mer Bor­der Bears pro­vin­cial player, Wayne Wi­b­lin called Smuts a very tal­ented crick­eter and added that it came from many hours of prac­tice.

“If you’re will­ing to put in the hours, it will even­tu­ally pay off,” Wi­b­lin said. Wi­b­lin said he would of­ten see the Smuts fam­ily prac­tice to­gether, “be it ten­nis or cricket”.

“I’ve never seen a fam­ily prac­tice more than the Smuts fam­ily”, said Wi­b­lin, speak­ing of Jon-Jon, his brother Kelly (who is part of the EP Cricket side) and his par­ents Neil and Diane, who live in Gra­ham­stown.

Wi­b­lin said it was great that Smuts had been recog­nised, es­pe­cially as the top run scorer in the re­cent T20 com­pe­ti­tion.

The other new caps are The­u­nis de Bruyn, Man­gal­iso Mosehle, Andile Phehluk­wayo, Dane Pater­son and Lungi Ngidi.

“We have de­cided to rest some of our key se­nior play­ers for this se­ries,” said Zondi. “This is the last chance we have to do this as the Mo­men­tum ODI se­ries that fol­lows is an im­por­tant part of our buildup to the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy Tour­na­ment in Eng­land in the mid­dle of the year.

“Those se­nior play­ers who are in­volved in the In­dian Pre­mier League will be play­ing non-stop from now un­til the end of Au­gust with the tours com­ing up to New Zealand and Eng­land in ad­di­tion to the ICC event.

“Farhaan was one of the stand­out play­ers in our fran­chise T20 Chal­lenge, be­ing the sec­ond lead­ing run scorer be­hind Jon-Jon Smuts and hav­ing the best strike rate,” said Zondi.

KFC T20 In­ter­na­tional Sched­ule: Fri­day, 20 Jan­uary 2017: 1st KFC In­ter­na­tional, Su­perS­port Park, 6pm Sun­day, 22 Jan­uary 2017: 2nd KFC In­ter­na­tional, Bid­vest Wan­der­ers, 2.30pm Wed­nes­day, 25 Jan­uary 2017: 3rd KFC In­ter­na­tional, PPC New­lands, 6pm. sport@gro­cotts.co.za

Photo: Sup­plied

Jon-Jon Smuts in ac­tion for the War­riors dur­ing the re­cent CSA T20 Chal­lenge.

Photo: Smuts Fam­ily

Jon-Jon Smuts has been called up for the first two T20 cricket games against Sri Lanka.

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