Tristan Stubbs’ franchise head coach Robin Peterson says the 21-year-old is equipped to be a future star for the Proteas, writes RYAN VREDE.
Stubbs announced himself on the international stage by smashing 72 off 28 deliveries against England in Bristol. The Proteas lost by 41 runs but gained insight into a player who appeared to be 30 matches into an international career, not three.
Stubbs walked to the crease at 86-4 with the Proteas chasing 235 for victory. His subsequent batting assault visibly shook an experienced England team and had their commentators lavishing him with praise.
Ultimately, his innings did not define the result, but his Warriors coach says Stubbs has the foundational elements that increase the likelihood of him building a long and successful international career.
“He has everything. He is a special talent,” Peterson tells SACricketmag.com. “I don’t spend much time on the technical aspects of his game at all.
“My focus with Tristan is tactical problem-solving. So, we work on what his response would be if a bowler is trying to choke him by bowling in a specific area and to a specific field.
“He’ll go away and work on that and, more often than not, solve the problem. What’s more, he’s a great hockey player, too, and that gives his cricket a degree of unorthodoxy that you can’t really coach.
“He has all the shots. On Wednesday he hit the leg side and straight boundaries well. He gave himself room to hit through or over extra cover a few times as well. But he has all the shots … he can lap, reverse sweep, scoop … everything.”
Talent, of course, is only able to express itself to the degree that temperament allows. Peterson says Stubbs has a truckload of the latter.
“For the Warriors, when he is at the crease I always believe we have a chance to win, no matter what the match situation is. He is so calm under pressure,” Peterson explains.
“He is also fiercely competitive, but he doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve. He is quiet, he doesn’t really have too much to say. But you’re never in doubt about his desire to win. He doesn’t overthink things, he has a natural, instinctive gift that he leans into. He also just has fun.
“You have to remember that this is a surfer kid from Knysna. Super chilled. What you saw on Wednesday against England was just an extension of who he is.”
Peterson says Stubbs’ blend of talent and temperament is amplified by an unrelenting work ethic.
“I remember when he just came into the Warriors set-up, I’d see a kid in Warriors kit running past my apartment. Eventually, I made the connection that it was him. He still does that. His work ethic is incredible.
“He’ll spend the entire day at Warriors training, then go straight to his club’s training session. He is incredibly fit and strong, with an insatiable appetite for learning and playing.”
Stubbs was a standout performer in the domestic T20 Challenge, averaging 48.83 at a strike rate of 183.12. Peterson says those who’ve watched him closely weren’t surprised at how he played, adding that the challenge was always going to be more about adjusting to the unique demands of international cricket.
“The challenge for him was getting used to the pace, and how he responded to the experience of facing guys coming down at 130km/h in domestic cricket versus 140km/h in internationals,” he explains.
“You could see he was rushed on some shots, he didn’t hit them cleanly, but he adjusted quickly. That speaks to his talent, temperament, and intelligence.
“Some young guys get to that level and you can tell they’re not ready yet,” he adds. “That’s not the case with Tristan. I could see in his eyes that the stage wasn’t too big for him.
“I think that had something to do with his stint in the IPL. Being exposed to that high-performance environment would have helped prepare him for the step up to international cricket. But I also think he is just built differently. He has an extraordinary gift for this game.”
Peterson added that how gifted young players like Stubbs are managed will be central to the Proteas’ big-tournament success in the years ahead.
“Young guys like Tristan and Dewald Brevis are future World Cup winners if we manage them properly,” he asserted. “If it means that they have to miss a chunk of the four-day domestic season to play in T20 leagues around the world, then so be it. The experience and skills they’ll learn there have a direct impact on the strength of the Proteas in white-ball cricket. We have to transform our thinking around this.
“We also have to be patient with them. There’ll be times when Tristan struggles for runs. It happens to all players. We have to keep faith in him then. He is worth the investment.”
Peterson jokingly adds that Stubbs, who hasn’t completely relinquished his love for playing hockey yet, is now lost to the sport.
“I got a text from his hockey coach last night. Tristan still plays games once in a while when he can. But the text read: ‘I’ll never forgive you for picking him. Now he’ll never play another hockey match in his life.’ That’s probably the truth!”
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