Jonathan Bird became the youngest player in South African cricket history to score a senior List A century on debut when he blasted 104 for Western Province against Easterns at WPCC on Sunday.
Bird was one of three centurions for Western Province over the weekend, whose performances were hailed by Province coach Paul Adams.
Bird scored his century while just a tender 17 years and 186 days old in his maiden senior List A appearance. Jiveshan Pillay was the previous record-holder after scoring his maiden List A century in senior cricket on debut for Northerns in 2017 at the age of 18.
Adams said Bird has an imposing presence at the crease, adding that he hits the ball with enormous power.
‘He can slay the bowlers on both sides of the wicket.’
Neil Carter, cricketing coach at Bishops where Bird is a learner, said the 17-year-old pierces the gaps with ease on the off-side and when the ball is there to be hit, and can also catapult it 30 rows back behind the boundary. The faster the ball comes, the more comfortable Bird is.
A young giant standing 1.90m tall, Bird has handled the pressure well and scored freely with every opportunity that has presented itself when he has been promoted to a new level.
‘He was a bit weak against spin, but has improved that part of his game a lot,’ said Carter.
Earlier on the weekend, Western Province completed a CSA Three-Day Provincial Cup clash against the same opposition, with openers Matthew Kleinveldt (109 in the first innings) and Jack Newby (132 in the second innings) producing the foundations for a really good team performance. Province fell could not put Easterns away. The latter finished on 258 for nine in pursuit of 384 and the last pair stone-walled for 64 balls to deny Western Province victory.
Both Kleinveldt and Newby defended soundly on a wicket which always had something in it for the bowlers.
Both are compact players who put the bad ball away with ease.
It was Newby’s first first-class century and eventually was forced to retire hurt.
He will undergo a fitness test on Wednesday prior to the Three-Day Provincial Cup match against Northern Cape starting at PPC Newlands on Thursday.
Photo: Ian Horrocks, Getty Images