The SA U19s’ current most experienced player, Gerald Coetzee, has declared himself ready for selection ahead of his team’s Youth One-Day International (ODI) Quadrangular series final against India U19 in Durban on Thursday.
Despite losing to their Zimbabwe counterparts by 31 runs, the junior Proteas advanced to the tournament’s main match at Kingsmead thanks to a better net run rate than their African neighbours.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe U19s will once again come up against New Zealand at the Chatsworth Oval, who dramatically defeated them by two runs in their opening match.
Coetzee suffered a hamstring injury while appearing in the second edition of the Mzansi Super League for the Jozi Stars in mid-November, keeping him out of action for almost two months.
The all-rounder has now confirmed that he is finally back to match fitness and available for selection, something that excites the 19-year-old.
‘I am feeling great. I am in a good space and I can’t wait to get on the field,’ he said at the team’s training session at Kingsmead. ‘I feel like I have been ready for two weeks, but there are formalities that have to be followed.
‘I am not saying, if I play tomorrow, I will run up and play the perfect game, but I won’t be on the back foot. I am ready and whatever the opposition throws at me, I would do my very best to throw it back harder.’
The right-arm fast bowler currently sits ninth on the all-time SA U19s wicket-takers list with 23 scalps, behind the likes of former SA U19 captain and Standard Bank Proteas bowler Wayne Parnell and current Proteas Kagiso Rabada and Wiaan Mulder.
The St Andrews, Bloemfontein old boy was in impressive form before his injury, taking 17 wickets during the first half of the Four-Day Franchise Series for the VKB Knights, which helped earn him the call-up to the Stars outfit for the 2019 MSL.
The lay-off has been frustrating for Coetzee, who had to sit on the sidelines, watching his SA U19 teammates prepare for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup to be hosted in South Africa.
‘It felt like being a dog tied to a tree and you are barking at everything walking past and you can’t do much,’ Coetzee continued. ‘I would say yesterday afternoon [Tuesday, against Zimbabwe] was the toughest, where we were in a situation where our Nos 7, 8 and 9 batsmen had to win the game, which is where I would bat.’
Ahead of the series final, Coetzee believes the SA U19s are not too far from where they want to be, stating that the final is still up for grabs, regardless of the form of the Indian side.
He also says that, although the team would welcome a winning run before what will be a second junior World Cup appearance for Coetzee – taking place from 17 January to 9 February – the result against India will not determine their success at the World Cup.
‘A final is always big, it doesn’t matter whom you play. There’s already the equality between the two teams because it is a final and both teams will have nerves and it’s just about the team that pitches up and plays the best cricket on the day,’ he concluded.
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