The South African U19 side has wrapped up preparations and is ready to challenge England U19 in two youth Tests and three ODIs.
Preparations have progressed well and are near completion for the Coca-Cola South Africa U19s, who gathered in Pretoria for their final week of camp ahead of their anticipated tour to the United Kingdom. Coach Lawrence Mahatlane and his side will take on England in a youth Test and ODI series from 8-29 July.
‘The boys have been good,’ said Mahatlane. ‘They have all arrived fit. We’ve been together here since Saturday and they have managed to pass all their fitness requirements. Due to conditions around the country [in winter] not being able to have turf facilities, we have been very blessed to arrive at the Centre of Excellence and have access to quality facilities,’ he added.
On Tuesday, the U19s took their preparation one step further when they began their three-day warm-up match against the Northerns Senior Provincial team at Groenkloof Oval. Mahatlane believes this fixture will provide the perfect challenge for his charges against tougher opposition while recreating the pressure they are expecting against England.
‘If you look around the world in terms of U19 cricket trends, a lot of the players are playing first-class cricket,’ he said.
‘The England players either play 2nd XI or county cricket, so this is a good exercise to give the players an opportunity to also play against senior provincial players where there is a bit of pressure, different from schoolboy cricket,’ added Mahatlane.
With only a handful of the 15-man squad having played senior red-ball cricket, Mahatlane and his coaching staff are looking to work on the players’ quality in the longer format.
‘Only five of the 15 guys have played in a three-day or four-day competition or match,’ he said. ‘So just teaching guys how to play four-day cricket, how to play time cricket, how to bowl and bat for the whole day, has been crucial.
‘So, our main focus over the past five days has been on red-ball skills,’ he concluded.
The SA U19s will take on their English opponents in two four-day youth Test matches and three ODIs and Mahatlane believes the players selected will be successful and make their country proud.
‘When we leave the country, we are looking to be victorious in both series,’ Mahatlane stated. ‘We are hoping to be very competitive. They [England] are in the middle of their season, we’re in the middle of our off-season so it is important that we get cricket-fit as quickly as possible and go out there and compete,’ he concluded.
Top-order batsman Wandile Makwetu is heading to his first tour as captain of the national team after his appointment in May this year. He will be the most experienced member of the squad with participation in two ICC U19 World Cups and take part in a total of 28 youth ODIs and two youth Test matches.
‘This has been one of the best camps I’ve been to so far,’ said Makwetu. ‘It has been really exciting. The guys came prepared, everyone is looking strong and these next three days in camp are going to be really important for us as we try to really hone in on our skills.
‘The preparation that has gone in the camp bodes well for England and everyone is looking forward to it,’ he added.
Coca-Cola South Africa U19 squad
- Wandile Makwetu (Northerns), captain
- Archille Cloete (Boland)
- Jade de Klerk (Eastern Province)
- Jean du Plessis (South Western Districts)
- Jarred Jardine (Gauteng)
- Mondli Khumalo (KZN Inland)
- Thamsanqa Khumalo (KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins)
- Jacob Miltz (Gauteng)
- Kgaudise Molefe (Gauteng)
- Jason Niemand (Border)
- Thando Ntini (Western Province)
- Gideon Peters (Northerns)
- Sinethemba Qeshile (Border)
- Joshua Richards (Gauteng)
- Louis van Schalkwyk (North West)
- Jonathan Bird* (Western Province)
- Curtis Campher* (Northerns)
Sunday, 08 July 2018 – First youth Test match (Scarborough)
Monday, 16 July 2018 – Second youth Test match (Emirates Riverside)
Monday, 23 July 2018 – First youth ODI (Emirates Riverside)
Thursday, 26 July 2018 – Second youth ODI (South North CC)
Sunday, 29 July 2018 – Third youth ODI (Scarborough)
Photo: John Cowpland / www.photosport.nz