Tough times don’t last but tough people do and South Africa under-19s head coach, Lawrence Mahatlane, believes his players will only learn from their difficult position as they prepare to face India under-19s in the third Youth One-Day International in East London on Monday.
The SA U19s trail the three-match series two-nil following their unconvincing performances in the opening two encounters at the Buffalo Park Stadium.
Mahatlane emphasized the importance of the team taking on an opposition that will test and help grow the players ahead of the 2020 ICC under-19 Cricket World Cup to be hosted in South Africa. This has included coming up against the defending champions, India, who have used the conditions that are more favourable to their strengths, to their advantage.
‘We have to test ourselves against the best and make sure that our skill-level improves every game and with exception to yesterday, where we played poorly, there have been areas of growth from a lot of the players,’ the coach said ahead of the third Youth ODI.
‘It’s been interesting conditions (at Buffalo Park). You would have thought, playing in South Africa, that our pace bowlers will be dominant but both sides yesterday, had to pick four spinners. If it does happen, that we get to the World Cup and that is the situation, hopefully, these lessons we are going through right now, will come through.
‘For me, it is not a time to panic, it’s time for growth and have all these lessons accumulate to peaking at the right time.’
Despite the distressing results in 2019, Mahatlane says that there have been positives, highlighting the displays of Western Province and Bishops batsman, Jonathan Bird, and the Youth ODI series victory in England last year.
Although the performances haven’t been great since then, he also acknowledges the outstanding talents his side has faced, stating that it has provided his young team with a view of what is required to succeed at this level.
‘The key, like with any young player, is time. If I look at it, 18 months ago, we won a series away in England and then beat Afghanistan in the sub-continent twice. You can’t argue against an opening bowler of Pakistan, who has already played Test cricket and is the youngest player to take a five-wicket haul in Test cricket, and some of these young Indian players who are also excellent,” Mahatlane continued.
‘We haven’t played well and we have to take it on the chin, but Jonathan Bird managed to score hundreds in our last series, so we’ve had glimpses. Injuries have also affected some of our top players and I am sure once we have a full house, we will be very competitive.
‘It’s a great incentive for the young players, to test themselves against these top players,” he concluded.
Team news ahead of the third and final Youth ODI includes the possible return of the now fit SA U19s captain, Bryce Parsons, who has recovered from an impingement in his back. It is also hoped that the experienced all-rounder, Gerald Coetzee, will be back training at full tilt in the coming week.
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