Cricket: Tough road for debutants

2014-03-23 14:00

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It won’t be easy for the Under-19 World Cup trio to keep their first-class spots, says Khanyiso Tshwaku.

Gauteng players Yaseen Vallie and Kagiso Rabada, with Eastern Province’s Kirwin Christoffels, took their first-class bow for their respective amateur provinces this weekend.

It is not a clear-cut path to national stardom as, on average, only one player from each Under-19 group has gone on to represent the Proteas after graduating from the Under-19 class.

Indeed, Proteas all-rounder Ryan McLaren cautioned against rushing Under-19 players.

But South African cricket has always been mired in a cloak of conservatism that does not seem likely to be discarded soon.

Rabada, who was the second-highest wicket taker at the tournament – with 14 scalps, including an impressive 6/25 in the semifinal against Australia – said he knew he still had a long way to go in terms of kicking down the franchise door.

He took 3/28 in 16 tight overs against Easterns last week.

“The margin for error is far lesser and that can only come with more practice and game time. The fewer bad balls I bowl, the more I’ll be noticed,” Rabada said.

“It will get tougher as the season wears on and the higher I go, but I will have to remain disciplined. That is the only key.”

Left-handed Valli made a sprightly unbeaten 20 in his only innings.

With the Highveld Lions top order misfiring, Valli said there was incentive for and upped performance, but he knows that the queue is very long.

“It will all boil down to consistency of performance because you seldom start as you mean to go on. But how you start does not determine how far you go,” said the King Edward VI School product.

“The senior players told me that sheer weight of runs will get me noticed. If I can keep producing runs, I hope that happens.

“It is all about the bags of runs, while always learning about myself.”

Fellow left-hander Christoffels made 51 on his debut against KwaZulu-Natal Inland, but reckoned that he had more work to do, especially with the Warriors batting line-up working in fits and starts.

Christoffels currently plays for the powerful Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University side, which provides the bulk of the EP provincial side and Warriors franchise.

“It was only my first game, so I am not getting ahead of myself because in our set-up there are a lot of talented young guys. They have plenty of games under their belts,” Christoffels said.

“Just because I am based in Port Elizabeth does not mean I’m in the front of the Warriors queue.

“There is still a lot of work to do and I am still young in terms of my cricket and my mind.”

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