Matthew Breetzke, whose 71 helped CSA XI claim a six-wicket win against Bangladesh on Thursday, is our future star in the latest issue of SA Cricket magazine.
Wiaan Mulder has been one of the most talked-about youngsters in South Africa, after making his Lions debut during his matric exams and following it up with a T20 Global deal with the Stellenbosch Kings.
But despite all the hype around him, the former SA U19 captain believes there’s someone else making waves in the youth setup.
Mulder says Matthew Breetzke, batting at the top of the order for SA U19, is one of the best players he has played with, and has had ’the pleasure of watching’.
‘He is an extremely talented opener with the ability to destroy bowling lineups,’ Mulder said in a recent conversation with SA Cricket magazine.
With a good eye for the big shot and the maturity to find the quick single at will, Breetzke has shown a level head at such a young age, particularly standing out against U19 World Cup Champions West Indies in a Youth ODI series in July.
Breetzke scored 2 and 37 in the opening two matches, but then went on to score 106 off 108 balls in the third ODI victory, followed by 55 and a ton in the fourth and fifth matches in a series won by the Windies 3-2.
The 18-year-old rated his maiden century as the most memorable moment in his budding career.
‘It was a big relief after I got some 50s and a 98 at the beginning of the year. To get a ton against the Windies was a special moment, especially with my parents and my girlfriend there watching.’
For Breetzke it was an indication that his time in England paid off. After matriculating in 2016, the opener made the decision to go to England after one of Lancashire’s second team players pulled out. Knowing that Breetzke had an England passport, they called him up with the opportunity to plug the gap.
England’s obvious link with South African cricketers raises the possibility of SA losing yet another talent, but Breetzke has given local fans assurance of his commitment.
‘I’m not looking too far forward whether I want to play in County Cricket when I’m older, even though I have a passport,’ he stated. ‘For now I want to focus on playing for Eastern Province and then get into the Warriors side, and eventually the Proteas.’
The T20 Global League had been set up for this reason, to hone young talent and keep our players grounded in South Africa, but the semi-professional youngster was not drafted for the inaugural edition, which has since been cancelled.
‘I was put in the draft, but unfortunately didn’t get picked,’ he said. ‘I was disappointed and was hoping to come in as a rookie, but that happens and it has motivated me more. Hopefully, on the back of some good performances, the scouts can have a look at me and I get in as a rookie next year.’
For now, Breetzke is focused on making the National Academy and a starting place in the Warriors lineup.
‘I don’t want to emulate anyone. I want to be my own type of batsman and bring something different to the team – like an X-Factor,’ he concluded.
Breetzke topped the run-scoring charts in the five-match Youth ODI series against West Indies in July, with 300 runs at an average of 60, which included two tons and a half-century.