Jonathan Bird, Lehan Botha, Jordan Woolf, Bonga Makaka and Thando Ntini – these are the Western Province players with the X-factor who can be match-winners in the Coca-Cola U19 Khaya Majola tournament starting on Sunday 16th December and finishing on Thursday 20th December in Cape Town, said Gurshwin Rabie, coach of the team.
Bird has proven he has a big-match temperament making hundreds on debut while playing for the South African U19 team as well as the WP senior provincial team.
Botha, says Rabie, has a certain hunger to score runs and does not give his wicket away easily. He has been the leading run-scorer for Rondebosch Boys High School the past year.
Woolf has the unique ability to finish off games with the bat and is very effective with the ball in the middle-period as well as at the end of the innings, Rabe commented.
Makaka, who made his first-class debut for Western Province in 2017, has the ability to score runs quickly and can be very destructive if he gets going, the coach added.
"Ntini is an experienced school-boy cricketer having played at an U19 World Cup event already," Rabe said.
The team’s preparations were far from perfect as they lost to Boland in a warm-up game and was only able to score 108 runs. “We just did not play the conditions all that well. Our execution also let us down,” Rabie said.
"The main all-rounders of the team are Woolf and Guy Sheena. Woolf bowls right arm medium pace, while Sheena is a middle-order batsman who bowls right arm off-spin," says Rabie.
The team ticks all the boxes. They have several seam bowlers, including the fast bowlers Jason Alexander, Siya Plaatjie and Ntini. Two players who fulfill the role of bowling nagging fast-medium deliveries, are Woolf and Plaatjie. Jordan Woolf and Botha are the medium-paced bowlers and Sheena and Collier are the two spinners.
“I would really like to say that I see most of the players are going to play professional cricket, but I do understand the difficulties of life after school and under normal circumstances it take players quite a few years to find their feet after school-boy cricket,” Rabie said. “The focus for the next four days would be mainly on identifying the different roles for each player within the team and nailing down our game-plans and focusing on how we want to play the game.”
“The boys seem to be quietly confident, even though we have not had the best of preparation. The spirit within the team is one in which the boys are very keen and eager to do well for the team and play for the badge of Western Province,” Rabie said
U19 A Squad: Lehan Botha (capt), Jonathan Bird, Justin Broad, Bonga Mokaka, Thembani Ngiozela, Aaron Smit, Thando Ntini, Guy Sheena, Jason Alexander, Siya Plaatjie, Jordan Coller, Justin Gilliland.
U19 B Squad: Riaz Paleker, Avil Jokazi, Gabriel Gad, Nazeem Noor, Matthew de Villiers, Josh Schippers, Keane Solomons, Bonke Ngingi, Hayden Byrne, Jordan Struwig, Abubakar Samodien, Riaz Fredericks.