When Gihahn Cloete turned out for South Africa in a T20 International against Zimbabwe in East London on 10 October 2018, he became the 85th cricketer to have played in the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week since 1994 to have gone on to represent the Proteas.
Those 85 players only reflect the period since the unification of schools cricket in 1994, and it includes all three formats of the game – Test cricket, ODIs and T20Is.
It’s been a rather lean year in 2018, as Cloete, Rassie van der Dussen and Khaya Zondo have been the only Khaya Majola Week graduates to get national colours in 2018, but over the years the majority of new entrants have come through the Week.
Just about all of the players in the current Protea squad played in the Khaya Majola Week, including captain Faf du Plessis, who played in the 2002 Week in Cape Town.
The Week is back in Cape Town again this year, so it’s interesting to note that Du Plessis was one of seven future Proteas in action in the Mother City in 2002. The others were Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Heino Kuhn, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso and Colin Ingram.
The trickling down of a professional approach to the game and technological advances in player management systems have made selection far more accurate these days, and there aren’t many good schoolboy players that are not already in Cricket South Africa’s talent identification system by the time they get to the showcase U19 week. However, the tournament has played – and continues to play – a crucial role in ensuring that no potential future stars fall through the cracks.
CSA’s youth weeks provide a strategic advantage to South African cricket, as none of the other cricket nations get the opportunity to see all of their top players in a particular age group in the same place at the same time so many times through their school years. There are U13, U15, U17 and U19 national weeks, and the U19 week leads into the U19 Franchise Cubs week, which represents a further chance to assemble the best of the contenders into an elite youth squad.
That said, there will always be some who are unlucky not to make their provincial school team, and 2018 is a case in point. There were six new Proteas this year and three of them – Henrich Klaasen, Junior Dala and Sebastiaan Jonker – did not play in the Khaya Majola Week when they were at school.
Theirs is a case of late development and perseverance, and it serves as a motivation to players who don’t get early recognition not to give up on their cricket careers. Another player who didn’t get selected for Khaya Majola Week was Aiden Markram, who was recently ranked by Wisden Cricket Monthly in the top three U23 players in world cricket.
The full list of Proteas who played in the Khaya Majola Week since unification in 1994
|Neil McKenzie||Johan Louw||Vaughn van Jaarsveld||Reeza Hendricks|
|Zander de Bruyn||Justin Kemp||Imraan Kahn||Kagiso Rabada|
|Mark Boucher||Alviro Petersen||Wayne Parnell||Dane Vilas|
|Nantie Hayward||Garnett Kruger||Rusty Theron||Temba Bavuma|
|Makhaya Ntini||Andre Nel||Lonwabo Tsotsobe||Eddie Leie|
|David Terbrugge||Dewald Pretorius||David Miller||Chris Morris|
|Loots Bosman||Friedel de Wet||Dean Elgar||Tabraiz Shamsi|
|Victor Mpitsang||Dale Steyn||Kyle Abbott||Andile Phehlukwayo|
|Boeta Dippenaar||Hashim Amla||Quinton de Kock||Keshav Maharaj|
|Johan van der Wath||JP Duminy||Henry Davids||Dwaine Pretorius|
|Jacques Rudolph||AB de Villiers||Marchant de Lange||Heino Kuhn|
|Mfuneko Ngam||Morne Morkel||Aaron Phangiso||Dane Paterson|
|Justin Ontong||Ryan McLaren||Farhaan Behardien||Duanne Olivier|
|Robin Peterson||Rory Kleinveldt||Dewald Pretorius||Mangaliso Mosehle|
|Jon Kent||Vernon Philander||Stiaan van Zyl||Jon-Jon Smuts|
|Albie Morkel||Morne Van Wyk||Dane Piedt||Lungi Ngidi|
|Graeme Smith||Andrew Puttick||Beuran Hendricks||Theunis de Bruyn|
|Johan Botha||Richard Levi||Rilee Rossouw||Wiaan Mulder|
|Monde Zondeki||Faf du Plessis||Simon Harmer||Khaya Zondo|
|Ashwell Prince||Colin Ingram||David Wiese||Rassie van der Dussen|
|Thami Tsolekile||Roelof van der Merwe||Mthokozi Shezi||Gihahn Cloete|