The U19 Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week will showcase South Africa’s best schoolboy cricketing talent when it kicks off in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Almost every single Proteas player has progressed through the ranks of this prestigious tournament, with the few exceptions being as rare as hen’s teeth.
Legends such as Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs, Allan Donald, Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock , Makhaya Ntini, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and even England’s Kevin Pietersen have featured in the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week.
Most recent Proteas graduates include Quinton de Kock (2011), Kagiso Rabada (2013) and Andile Phehlukwayo (2014), whilst many others such as Clyde Fortuin (2013), Lungi Ngidi (2014), Leus du Plooy (2013), Sibonelo Makhanya (2014), Zubayr Hamza (2013) and Dayyaan Galiem (2015) are making a name for themselves at franchise level.
The tournament will run from 16-21 December and features 15 provincial U19 teams from around South Africa as well as a Namibian U19 team, all of whom will battle it out over a variety of formats over the six days of cricket.
With the opening two days of play being dedicated to Declaration Time Cricket, the third day will see each side play two T20 matches, before switching to the more familiar limited 50-over format for the final two days. The sixth day will see only the SA Schools and SA Colts XIs in action, with those not selected heading home for the festive season break.
Gauteng are once again the favourites heading into the week and are expected to defend their unofficial crown at the week for the fourth consecutive year in a row.
Wiaan Mulder, captain of the Gauteng team, is arguably the tournament’s highest profile player in a while. Already boasting four Sunfoil Series and seven CSA T20 Challenge matches with the Highveld Lions, Mulder’s success at the highest level will heap much expectation on his young shoulders.
The tournament is an integral part of Cricket South Africa’s development program, with the Khaya Majola Cricket Week viewed as the breeding ground of future Proteas. 208 young cricketers will converge on the City of Roses on Friday with the hopes of impressing the powers-that-be as they bid to kick start their paths to greatness. The U19 Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week – where heroes are made.
By Warwick Austin
Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images