Verreynne's Proteas ambitions outweigh Mzansi Super League snub

Kyle Verreynne (Gallo)
Kyle Verreynne (Gallo)

Cape Town - Former Proteas Test batsman and current Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince has never been one to mince his words. 

Just last year he questioned the ethic of then-Proteas coach Ottis Gibson, suggesting that the man in charge of the national side was not in tune with what was happening in South African domestic cricket. 

At the time, Prince was talking about one of his brightest young prospects at the Cobras, Kyle Verreynne, saying that he saw him as a potential member of South Africa's 2019 World Cup squad as well as a member of the Test side. 

"Sometimes I've got to wonder ... I don't think Ottis Gibson has ever seen Kyle Verreynne play any game of cricket," said Prince, making waves in the process.

To say that Prince rates Verreynne highly is an obvious understatement, which is why it came as a shock when the 22-year-old was not picked in last month's draft for the 2019 Mzansi Super League. 

Prince, the coach of the Cape Town Blitz, instead opted for David Bedingham as his back-up wicketkeeper to Quinton de Kock. 

"I was a bit disappointed. I had heard a few things building up to the draft that I was going to be bought, but it is what it is," Verreynne tells Sport24, adding that he has not spoken to Prince about the snub at all. 

"There are five other teams as well, so it's not as if he (Prince) had a responsibility to buy me."

There was little time to dwell, anyway, and Verreynne was soon off on a first-ever trip to India to form part of the South Africa 'A' squad that played five ODIs on the subcontinent. 

He only got one knock all series, carding a blistering 44 (24) in a losing cause in a rain-affected match that was reduced to 20 overs. 

"It was a very good experience. I learnt a lot playing with guys who have played international cricket before. It was my first time in India so it was quite nice to get more game time, but it was still quite a valuable lesson."

The fact that he has been included in the SA 'A' set-up this early in his career suggests that Verreynne is on the road to higher honours. 

"My goal is to play for the Proteas," he states bluntly.

"My goal is Test cricket and a World Cup so those are the two things I am focused on. T20 cricket is nice and I enjoy it, but at the end of the day my focus is on the real cricket ... 50 overs and red ball cricket."

Those are the two formats where Verreynne was at his best in 2018/19. 

He finished as the second-highest run-scorer in this year's One Day Cup behind Aiden Markram, who was in superb form heading into the World Cup. 

Verreynne scored 453 runs in 9 innings at an average of 64.71 in that competition and it was that form that saw him included in the SA 'A' side. 

In last season's Four Day Challenge, he scored 583 runs at 44.84.

Those are the numbers he needs to improve in 2019/20 if he is to be noticed by new Proteas coach Enoch Nkwe and the national selectors.

"I want to be able to be selected just as a batsman and I believe I am good enough to do that," he says.

"Keeping is obviously quite important to me and I do take it as a primary skill, but at the end of the day I put focus on my batting."

While he looks up to several players, Verreynne says he has never tried to mould himself on anybody else.

"I don't like to look at other people and try do what they're doing. I like to look at a lot of players and take little things," he says.

"I remember watching Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis when I was young and noticing how late they played the ball. That's something I tried to implement.

"I wouldn't say there was anyone I looked up to, necessarily, but I took a lot from those guys."

Last year at the Cobras, Verreynne got to feed off one of those childhood heroes. 

Born in Pretoria before a family relocation to the Western Cape, Verreynne spent countless hours watching Amla when he was a kid at Wynberg Boys High, analysing his technique. 

Last season, in a desperate attempt to find form ahead of the 2019 World Cup, Amla spent significant time at the Cobras and Verreynne soaked it all in. 

"It was mad," he recalls.

"I've actually become quite close with him now and it's unreal to think that you go from looking up to someone to being mates with him a couple of years later."

As Cobras captain Pieter Malan said at last week's season launch, "none of us are satisfied with just being franchise players". 

Verreynne and his team-mates all have aspirations to play at higher level, and succeeding in what could be South Africa's final season of franchise cricket in its current form is the first step.  

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