Has St Stithians produced another future star in Matthew Erasmus?
The lanky left-hander has emerged as one of the stars of this year’s T20 Schools Challenge and led his side to a consecutive title.
This is his second tournament, filling the role of 12th man last year, as he watched Lions all-rounder Wiaan Mulder rack up all the accolades that included 275 runs (three 50s) and 13 wickets.
Erasmus played an identical role to Mulder in this year’s competition scoring 267 runs, which included a magnificent hundred (105 off 75 balls) against the Warriors (Selborne College) to help them qualify for the semi-final. He scored a half-century (55) to get his side to the final, which St Stithians ultimately won by eight wickets against debutants, Hudson Park.
He earned Hero of the Day and the Man of the Tournament award for his three half-centuries and a hundred.
Not only does he hold the technical ability and composure that is expected from an opening batsman, he possesses the physicality. Towering above his fellow classmates, the teen has the talent and presence to become the attacking opener the Proteas have been lacking since the departure of Graeme Smith.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves with bold statements, he still has a long way to go, with his sights on playing for the Lions in the near future.
SA Cricket magazine had the chance to catch up with the 18-year-old.
‘It was disappointing not getting game time last year,’ said Erasmus. ‘It inspired me to do better. That determination is probably the reason for my success this year.’
He continued by explaining his switch to opener.
‘I used to bat No 3, but to get into the first team I had to transform into an opener because Mulder was batting at three,’ he said.
‘I’ve always been a technical player and because No 3 is a similar position, I didn’t have to change much technically. Mentally, it was about not driving immediately.
‘At No 3 you can come in, when there’s not much shine on the ball, and drive immediately. As an opener you have to wait it out longer to see the shine off the ball.
‘It also helps that I’m batting with my mate Joshua Richards. We’ve been playing together since the age of six and it helped me transition much quicker.’
Although he has the obvious aspirations of a budding star, which is to play for the Proteas, Erasmus expressed his short-term goals.
‘I want to make SA U19 squad for the World Cup in New Zealand. However, my current focus is to do well in matric so I can play Varsity Cup.’
Mulder’s success inspires Erasmus.
‘It’s promising. He batted in the same nets as me, doing the same drills. It shows that the work we do pays off and the benefits from the coaching is actually real.’
Erasmus gets to his century:
— SA Cricket magazine (@SACricketmag) March 25, 2017
Man of the Tournament: