• Where are they now?

    The defence of South Africa U19’s World Cup title got underway today as cricket’s future stars look to take their careers to the next level. No less than four players made their mark two years ago by being named in the team of the tournament. The question is, where are they now?

    Markram hit a career-best score of 182 last week, but believe it or not, there’s something slightly bitter-sweet about it. Markram almost wasn’t even selected for the 2014 edition, but Ray Jennings placed faith in his ability as a batsman, and a captain. He led the side to the trophy, and was named Man of the Series for amassing 370 runs at an average of 123.33. He had the world at his feet. Things have somewhat stalled since then. His 182 came in the semi-professional Sunfoil Cup three-day competition. That knock took him to 600 runs in the tournament and 1 000 in his career. He’s in form, but one can’t help but feel that he should be doing it at franchise level for the Titans, for whom he has played only a couple of games. That’s not to say that he isn’t still destined for great things. A lack of runs at the wrong time and his studies have been the recent obstacles. He’s still only 21, and captained the SA Invitational XI that played England last month.

    Not to be confused with 26-year-old Yaseen Vallie, who hit a century for the Warriors last week. Valli was hands down the best all-rounder in the tournament, with a batting average of 80 and a bowling average of 10.8. He also hasn’t pushed on as many would have liked. His role has changed since then – the last few matches that he’s played for Gauteng has seen him open and captain the three-day side, but he appears to have given up the useful left-arm spin he operated a couple of years ago. His average from the five matches he’s played in is a respectable 42.12. He’ll want to keep up that form and push for higher honours.

    The right arm pace of Justin Dill has been used rather sparingly since he burst on to the scene in the UAE with 12 wickets at 12.50. He played six games for Boland in 2015, often used as a second-change bowler and a No 6/7 batsman, and in danger of being used in a bits-and-pieces role. He didn’t let himself down in last year’s Varsity Cricket tournament with 10 wickets from nine matches at 19. While he’s a decent bowler, he’s no mug with the bat either, and has the makings of a useful bowling all-rounder if he gets a better run with Boland this year.

    A graphic came up during the coverage of the SA U19’s opener against Bangladesh, showing two of the most successful players to have emerged from each tournament. For 2014, one was Bangladesh bowler Mustafizur Rahman, and the other was Kagiso Rabada. You might be familiar with Mustafizur, who took three wickets in four balls in the first Test match against the Proteas last year, but there was no greater success story to emerge from the tournament than Rabada. Rabada terrorised batsmen with the ability to get it up to 140km/h back then, and not much has changed in that aspect today. His figures of 13-144 against England were the second-best South African bowling figures of all time, and the scariest part of that is he will only get faster, he will only get better.

    There are five others from that squad who have progressed to franchise cricket. All-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Sibonelo Makhanya are set for very promising careers indeed. The hard-working Phehlukwayo has yet to hit the ground running yet, but an extended run with the Dolphins in the Sunfoil Series and the Momentum One Day Cup should bring the best out of him. Dolphins teammate Makhanya, who captained SA U19 after Markram, has already stated his credentials with the bat, scoring 192 for KZN in December.

    Clyde Fortuin’s move from Western Province to the Eastern Cape has done wonders for him so far, as he enjoyed a healthy stint as the Warriors’ first-choice wicketkeeper in the Ram Slam and Sunfoil Series. Ngazibini Sigwili made a name for himself with a five-wicket haul in the inaugural Africa T20 Cup, and made his Sunfoil Series debut for the Warriors earlier in the month, only for the game to be washed out. Finally, Jason Smith made his debut for the Cape Cobras last week. He was a top-order batsmen during the U19 spectacle, but operated as an all-rounder for his franchise.

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    Tom Sizeland