Cricket in his soul

2014-01-21 00:00

PICTURE a young boy with a cricket bat in hand, throwing a tennis ball against a wall and hitting the ball with the bat as it bounces back.

This goes on for hours, the youngster returning at every opportunity to continue throwing and hitting.

It builds a deep respect for the game in the lad’s soul as he dreams of batting and playing at the sacred cricket arenas of the world. It may seem a fantasy world at times but, if the seeds to turn the dream into reality are watered regularly, there is nothing to stop that dream becoming real.

This is the path taken by Greg Oldfield, who turns 19 next month and who matriculated last year from Michaelhouse. He went to Highbury, lives in Kloof and “just felt at home” when he first visited Michaelhouse, having no second thoughts as to where he wanted to see out his school days.

Having played in Highbury’s first cricket team from grades five to seven, and captain in his last year, the right-handed number four or five batsman had all the facilities and coaching he desired at Michaelhouse and he made good use of them.

“I started playing cricket with a hard ball at U9 level and at Michaelhouse played U14A and U15A before going straight into the first team,” said Oldfield. “I played three years in the 1st side and have a reputation as a batsman who hits the ball hard and scores fast, something in the David Miller mould I like to think.”

At Michaelhouse, Oldfield’s talent on the cricket field was soon recognised. “I was awarded colours for cricket in Grade 10 and honours in grades 11 and 12,” said Oldfield. “I was selected for the KZN Inland team at U15, U17 and U19 level and played SA Schools in grades 11 and 12.” Oldfield was good enough to represent KZN at Cubs Week in grades 11 and 12, and was selected for the SA U19 team both times. “Last year in February we played against England in Stellenbosch and toured India in September and October of the same year,” said Oldfield. “I have just finished Cubs Week earlier this month and am in the SA U19 team for the World Cup in Dubai in February.”

To prepare for the tournament, Oldfield and the squad have a training camp from February 2 to 7 at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria, and leave for Dubai on the night of February 7.

“We have two warm-up matches — against Namibia and defending champions and favourites India — before our first tournament match against the West Indies,” said Oldfield. “We are in a group with the Caribbean boys, Zimbabwe and Canada, and beating the West Indies first up will be vital in our goal to top the group heading into the next round. The top two from every group progress.”

Working with team coach Ray Jennings has proved to be the ideal platform for Oldfield to build his cricket career.

“Ray is a no-nonsense coach. We are there to play cricket and he cannot be fooled by us. He has played and coached at all levels and sets high standards with big expectations of us,” said Oldfield.

“He treats us like professionals, puts pressure on us and sees how we deal with situations. He shows us the life and expectations of a cricketer and it’s what I need to further my career and ambition.”

Oldfield has made his choice to follow a career in cricket and is mentally tuned in to what it will take.

“Cricket is a job and must be done well. This entails sacrifice plus physical and mental toughness,” he said. “It’s not just about a couple hours of training and spending time on the golf course. It’s a balance between mind and body, keeping the two in tune to ensure success.”

Oldfield has already been in discussion with the Dolphins and hopes to make the three-day amateur side. He has trained with the Dolphins side and had some time with coach Lance Klusener and assistant coach Rivash Gobind.

Oldfield at a Glance

Fields mostly at first slip

Bowls right-arm off-spin occasionally

Loves Test cricket

Plays club cricket for Pinetown

Will be studying BCom Economics (correspondence)

Loves rugby — played in Grade 11 for 2nd and 3rd sides at flyhalf

Likes cars

Enjoys gym, running and cycling

Is a popcorn and toasted sandwich specialist rather than a cook

Played piano at Highbury until cricket got serious

Is starting to play golf

Favourite meal is a beef burger

Enjoys a beer with team-mates

Reads sports books and biographies

Likes movies and live TV shows

Walking Dead is a series favourite

Thanks to his father Grant, is a huge fan of 60s, 70s and 80s music

Music helps to relax him before going to bat

Has no superstitions — pads up and gets on with the job.

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