Hermann Rolfes is a poster boy of the South African schoolboy system.
Having captained the 1st XI at Afrikaans Hoerseunsskool (Affies), excelling and making South Africa’s U19 World Cup side, the 18-year-old all-rounder is one of the country’s most talented prospects.
But just like every schoolboy nearing the end of their teenage years, Rolfes had doubts about pursuing the sport as a definite career.
‘In Grade 11 I was in a phase where I didn’t want to play cricket for my province,’ Rolfes tells SA Cricket magazine.
‘I spoke to a few people and made the decision that I wouldn’t. After that, everything went well with bat and ball. I played at the end of the year for my province and then made the Cubs team. Everything went up from there.’
Rolfes sprung out in the Junior Proteas’ last group match against hosts New Zealand, when he scored a magnificent century among a woeful batting collapse. SA U19 found themselves three wickets down with 55 on board when Rolfes stepped up to the crease. He smashed 108 off 124 balls before losing his wicket, covering up what could have been an embarrassing defeat. He also took 1-55 in 10 overs.
Talking about his well-grafted ton, Rolfes reflects the mentality of a selfless yet confident player.
‘From when I started playing for the SA U19, I got a lot of starts and I never made use of them. I felt I owed my team a bit more with the bat.
‘When I reached three figures I felt like I finally made a contribution to the team that they were waiting for. The bond between the teammates made it special.’
Quality batting all-rounders are hard to find, but this past year Rolfes proved that he has the attributes to flourish in the role. His aim is to bat in the middle order.
‘For me as an all-rounder, I idolised Jacques Kallis. I play a similar role to Andile Phehlukwayo but I’d prefer to bat at No 4, 5 and 6.’
His 1st XV coach at Tuks, Kruger van Wyk, confirmed that he is on the right path.
‘Hermann is a talented young cricketer and I have been very impressed with his quiet resolve and toughness.
‘There is a huge opportunity for good all-rounders in the game and I believe if he works hard and stays patient, he can go on to reach lofty heights.
‘He’s not much of a talker but he’s the first person to get stuck in when the game is on the line and that toughness will stand him in good stead.’
‘Both disciplines need good work but he is a very disciplined young man who has been a great asset to Assupol Tuks Cricket.’
But where to from now?
There’s no doubt in the young man’s potential. The fairytale path would be a continued rise until he lives out the dream every young cricket possess, a Proteas call-up.
Rolfes has, however, decided on a different path.
‘Academics is my top priority. I’m studying industrial engineering. When I’m finished with my degree, I will look at maybe playing for the Titans or the academy, but for now, I will focus on playing for Tuks.
‘I won’t take a contract until I finish my degree. I have been offered a contract for the Titans but I decided not to take it.’
ROLFES AT THE U19 WORLD CUP
0-44 and 11 vs India
0-20 and 28 vs Kenya
4-33 and 17 vs West Indies
1-55 and 108 vs New Zealand
1-22 and 5 vs Pakistan
0-27 and 44* vs Bangladesh
Photo: David Rowland-IDI/IDI via Getty Images