Coca-Cola South Africa U19 head coach, Lawrence Mahatlane, is keen to see new stars born during the Momentum U17 Boys Week in Durban this week.
Some of the most talented cricketers in the age group will descend on Kearsney College from 12-16 December, competing in a selection time cricket and limited-overs matches between all 15 provincial sides plus Zimbabwe.
With South Africa set to host the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in 2020, the U17 Week is of special interest, with all the players featuring in this year’s edition eligible for selection for the looming spectacle.
This provides the young cricketers with an ideal opportunity to stake their claim ear, and although Mahatlane and his scouts have already identified a number of players, he is excited to see some new names being added to that list.
‘It’s an exciting week,’ he began. ‘I am looking forward to seeing an improvement in those players we’ve been monitoring and hopefully see some new talent, players we don’t know about and who are maturing now at the right time.
‘We’ve had our national and regional camps, so there are a lot of players we’ve monitored and know what they are capable of. But I always say, until the squad is announced, everyone has a great opportunity.’
The youth cricket showpiece is just over 12 months away and Mahatlane’s plans for the SA U19s have already been outlined.
He was also quick to point out the possibility of some of the players involved during the U17 Week being involved with the junior national side sooner than they may think, as he looks to build towards the make-up of his squad for 2020.
‘With the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week taking place next week and the CSA Franchise Cubs Week coming up in January, who knows? Some of these young men might be going to India with the SA U19 side in January,’ he noted.
‘From our point of view, we just look at what we have as a country, as our greatest strength. With the World Cup being in South Africa, we need to make sure we take advantage of our home conditions. We are looking to build a balanced side, with good batters, bowlers and some spinners. A team that should be competitive throughout the tournament,’ emphasised Mahatlane.
Ahead of the five days of cricket, these players have been working for the whole year through countless hours spent in the nets. Mahatlane urges them to back themselves unstintingly and not bear undue pressure.
‘I found with these young players, they just sometimes want it a bit too much, and in their desperation they normally put themselves under unnecessary pressure,’ he explained. ‘They must go out there and give it a full go. The fact that they are in the provincial side already means they are talented and it’s just about them going out there and playing.’
The Momentum U17 Boys Week will commence on Wednesday 12 December and live scores can be accessed on www.websports.co.za.