Two schoolboys are part of a strong senior Western Province 13-man Africa T20 Cup squad.
Bonga Makaka made his first-class debut at age 17 last season against the Northern Cape, while Jonathan Bird was a standout performer in the SA U19 team’s first series win against England in a youth ODI on English soil since 2003.
The team consists of several big hitters who can ignite a ground with their vast array of attacking shots. Janneman Malan and Bird are potential openers who are blessed with the talent and big match temperament that will enable them to produce the goods for Western Province in the tournament that runs from 14-16 September in Pietermaritzburg.
The fast bowling resources are also exciting, as Proteas and Cape Cobras strike bowler Dane Paterson will lead an attack which contains two other potential match-winners in Michael Cohen and Mpilo Njoloza. Kyle Williamson is a leg-spinner who has excelled at club level and who possesses the variations to bamboozle a batting lineup.
Clinton du Preez, manager of cricket services of the Western Province Cricket Association, was upbeat about the balance of youth and experience in the team. He added that, since the inception of the Africa Cup competition, Western Province have had poor results and they would like to turn the corner this season.
‘The preparation has been great and we will be playing a few warm-up games. This time around we will have the opportunity to play some pre-tournament games,’ he adds.
The team will travel to Durban to play two warm-up games, while eight other pre-tournament T20 matches will be played before their Group A games start on 14 September.
‘This year we are going to compete and push on for the semi and finals weekend. It is great to see players selected from our selected Club XI who played a few games last season. This is encouraging for all club cricketers who will have the confidence to access the high-performance pipeline straight from the club cricket scene,’ he said in alluding to the inclusion of Williamson.
Western Province head coach Paul Adams is enthusiastic about the inclusion of other African countries in the tournament.
‘It is great to see Cricket South Africa at the forefront in growing the game of cricket within the African continent,’ said Adams.
‘We will be preparing differently to previous seasons and with the challenge of the winter conditions down in the Western Cape, we are wanting to think out of the box regarding simulating match conditions,’ added Adams.
‘We are also very keen to see some young players perform under pressure in games and continue to develop our high-performance pipeline players.’
The Western Province squad includes at least three classical all-rounders who are equally well-equipped to take four wickets or score 50 runs – André Malan, Dayyaan Galiem and George Linde.
WP will contest Pool A against KwaZulu-Natal Inland, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal, Easterns and Uganda.
Qaasim Adams, Jonathan Bird, Michael Cohen, Isaac Dikgale, Dayyaan Galiem, Carlos Koyana, George Linde, Bonga Makaka, André Malan (capt), Janneman Malan, Mpilo Njoloza, Dane Paterson, Kyle Williamson.
Photo: Cricket South Africa