Lo­cal cricket stars aim for SA places in Dur­ban

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

WESTERN PROV­INCE’S Un­der-19 cricket team have been busy hon­ing their skills in a num­ber of friendlies and done enough in them to sug­gest they will be a force to be reck­oned with at the Khaya Ma­jola Cricket Week, be­gin­ning in Dur­ban tomorrow.

And the 13-man squad have their sights on emu­lat­ing last year’s side that went un­beaten – Prov­ince won all six matches played in the three for­mats used, to end off as un­of­fi­cial cham­pi­ons.

“It would be nice to re­peat the feat, and I’m up­beat we can, as the squad as­sem­bled has a far more bal­anced look about it to the one of 2012,” said Clin­ton Ravens, who coaches for a sec­ond year run­ning.

“We played four warm-up games, and while we lost two of them, I was left pleased with the way we per­formed and happy with the en­thu­si­asm and keen de­sire shown by the boys.

“The fact they en­joyed th­ese oc­ca­sions shows me the play­ers are ex­cited to be play­ing un­der the Prov­ince ban­ner and want­ing to be part of a team ef­fort rather than play as in­di­vid­u­als.”

Prov­ince be­gin their cam­paign against neigh­bours Boland (who they eas­ily beat re­cently) be­fore a clash with the Ti­tans ( both en­coun­ters time-based games). They then play two T20 matches against North West and Lim­popo.

Four play­ers – Dayyaan Galiem, Zubayr Hamza, Hayes van der Berg and Clyde For­tuin – re­turn to duty in a Prov­ince squad loaded with six play­ers from Ron­de­bosch (the un­of­fi­cial No 1 team in the coun­try).

Prov­ince could well hold a strong hand when it comes to se­lect­ing the SA Schools team, with the likes of Galiem, Van der Berg and For­tuin – who have all been capped at SA Un­der- 19 level – stak­ing ob­vi­ous claims, while Hamza (cap­tain) and Kee­gan Wheeler have been in great nick with the bat.

For­tuin, 18, is a highly-rated wick­et­keeper/bats­man and who in the words of SA un­der-19 coach Ray Jen­nings last year is “more ta­lented” than SA’s hottest player at the mo­ment, Quin­ton de Kock – who is fresh off com­plet­ing a hat-trick of cen­turies for the Proteas in the oneday for­mat.

The Khaya Ma­jola Week runs from De­cem­ber 16-21. The tour­na­ment is the flag­ship youth week and plays a ma­jor role in the se­lec­tion of the South Africa un­der-19 squad that will go to next year’s ICC un­der-19 World Cup. Western Prov­ince Un­der-19 “A” Squad: Moga­mat Zain Al­lie, Matthew Chris­tensen, Greg Oliver, Clyde For­tuin, Dayyaan Galiem, Yolisa Mona, Zubayr Hamza (cap­tain), Riaz Sader, Ja­son Fourie, Jay Stevens, Jean Stry­dom, Hayes van der Berg, Kee­gan Wheeler. Coach: Clin­ton Ravens. Man­ager: Al­lan Cys­ter.

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