Ziyaad, 18, hopes to become SA’s own Waqar
ZIYAAD ABRAHAMS has set himself the goal of playing Test cricket for South Africa in the next five to six years.
The 18-year-old Western Province Sport School (WPSS) Grade 12 pupil, who was playing at club level aged 10, is heading in the right direction.
The right-arm fast bowler excelled for the WP Under-17 team at last year’s Cricket South Africa U17 Week, ending the tournament in Johannesburg as the leading wickettaker with 15 scalps.
Then in March this year, he represented the SA U19 team in a series of home- and- away one- day matches against Bangladesh, taking 10 wickets in four games.
Abrahams is set to lead the WP U19 attack at the Khaya Majola Week in Port Elizabeth next month, and he will no doubt make a big impact as he is back on home soil having been raised in the Eastern Cape.
The teenager says he can’t wait to help his side win the tournament.
“It’s always an honour to represent one’s province. I played two years for the WP Under-17 team and last year we ended as the leading team. Now for a new challenge,” he said. “Returning to PE will bring back fond memories. It was there that I started to play sport, soccer being my first love. I was a goalkeeper and enjoyed it.
“My dad Shukri, who coaches cricket at WPSS, was a good cricketer in his time. He was an opening bowler and got to wear SA colours at school level, before going on to play for the Eastern Province senior team,” he continued.
“Having him teach me the tricks of the trade helps me grow in more ways than one. Discipline is first and foremost. There’s no special favours dished out to me at school; I have to work as hard as the other boys to win approval, that’s the way I like it.
“An example of this played out when we arrived at the school in 2012. I started out as a leg-spinner in the first term and took three wickets in a WP Under-15 trials game. When I checked the team sheet for the next trial my name wasn’t there, so I asked my dad why and he said I ‘wasn’t good enough, that I needed to work hard for next year to make it’.
“He was right at the time. I’ve been doing just that ever since then and it’s paying dividends.”
Ziyaad’s father says he has no problem chatting to other coaches about his son. “Fast bowling is an art form and more heads than one can only help Ziyaad’s cause. How to swing the ball both ways, variety of deliveries, how to out-think batsmen and the like is a process that takes years to master,” Shukri said.
“He’s slowly but surely getting there. Taking wickets regularly is a confidence-booster, but he’s not getting ahead of himself, he knows that he’s only as good as his last game.”
Young Abrahams lists Pakistan legends Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis as his favourite players.
“They were masters of their craft. The way they went about their busi- ness was a true learning experience for me. They let their bowling do the talking and they cashed in big time. Hopefully one day I can also do likewise,” he said.
Another member of the Abrahams clan is a fine cricketer in his own right, that being Shaakir, 21, a left-arm spinner who represented the SA Schools team in 2012.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the two talents, who got to play in the same club side as their dad growing up, forward their careers over the next couple of years.
One has a funny feeling they just might make it as pro players.
ZIYAAD ABRAHAMS: ‘I have to work as hard as the other boys to win approval’