St Stithians student Wiaan Mulder took outstanding match figures of 7-64 in his First-Class debut for the Lions in their victory over the Cobras last week.
The Saints all-rounder was named Player of the Tournament at the 2015 Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week in Port Elizabeth, where he shone with both bat and ball for the undefeated Gauteng team.
He has since gone on to win the Coca-Cola Schools T20 Championship with Saints in March where he was also named Player of the Tournament courtesy of being the leading run-scorer and top wicket-taker.
Together with these two awards, the South African U19 skipper was also honoured as the South African U19 Cricketer of the Year at the annual Cricket South Africa Awards.
A batting all-rounder with comparisons to Kallis, much is expected of the Saints youngster who has already penned a professional contract with the Johannesburg franchise.
Mulder debuted for the Lions in the Momentum eKasi One Day Challenge in September, taking 1-34 in his side’s 18-run win over the Titans.
Wednesday 5 October 2016 proved to be a massive day in the young life of Mulder as he made his First-Class debut for the Lions in their opening round Sunfoil Series encounter against the Cape Cobras at the Wanderers.
Things could not have started any better for the young seamer, as he took 3-10 in seven overs on the opening day with the Cobras being dismissed for just 102. Aview Mgijima, Vernon Philander and Jason Smith all fell victim to Mulder, before Smith claimed his vengeance removing Mulder for a 20-ball duck later in the day.
The second innings brought even more joy for Mulder as together with Hardus Viljoen they destroyed the Cobras batting lineup. Viljoen claimed 6-75, whilst Mulder bagged 4-54. Once again he accounted for Smith and Mgijima, whilst Dane Vilas and Dane Paterson added their names to his victim list.
An unbeaten 160-run opening stand between Stephen Cook and Rassie van der Dussen in the fourth innings took the Lions to a 10-wicket win and although Viljoen earned Man of the Match, it was Mulder who earned respect.
At 18 years and 229 days, Mulder was a long way off being South Africa’s youngest First-Class debutant. That record belongs to Dudley Theophilus who debuted for Eastern Province against Western Province in the 1926-27 season aged 15 years and 309 days. Other future greats such as Kepler Wessels, Jacques Rudolph, Hashim Amla, Darryl Cullinan, Graeme Pollock and Herschelle Gibbs all made their First-Class debuts before their 17th birthday.
Out of interest sake, Quinton de Kock made his First-Class debut aged 17 years and three days, whilst Andile Phehlukwayo 17 years and 326 days old. Both have starred in the recent ODI series against the Australians which the Proteas currently lead 4-0.
With his matric exams looming, Mulder and the Lions will need to find some balance, but expect plenty of big things from this lad in the upcoming 2016-17 season.
By Warwick Austin
Picture: Lee Warren/Gallo Images