Lions teen Mulder eyes Ram Slam to bang home Proteas credentials
The Highveld Lions’ rising all-rounder Wiaan Mulder wants to use the Ram Slam T20 Challenge this season to enhance his reputation and continue impressing Proteas coach Ottis Gibson and the selectors.
The highly-rated 19-year-old Mulder‚ who made his international debut in the third ODI against Bangladesh in East London last month‚ said he is excited by the prospect of playing against established Proteas like AB de Villiers‚ Hashim Amla‚ Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock in the Ram Slam.
“If I do well in this T20 competition‚ it will help me with confidence and I will take a lot out of it because of the quality of international players that I will be playing against.
“This tournament will be a good learning platform and it will put me in good stead to progress to international level‚” Mulder said this week as the Lions prepare to open their campaign with a clash against bitter rivals the Titans at SuperSport Park on Sunday.
Asked if he feels any pressure going into his first full season as a professional at the age of 19‚ Mulder said he is going to have a little bit of fun.
“I am just going to try and express myself. I know that guys will be analysing me this season but I am just going to go out there try my best on the day against the quality of opposition that will be out there‚ and not worry too much about other things‚” he said.
“Whatever happens will happen but I strongly believe that I am in the best environment to succeed here at the Lions.”
Mulder’s coach‚ Geoffrey Toyana‚ said the Lions’ technical team will do whatever it takes to protect their rising star so he can fulfill his undoubted potential.
“We are fortunate that he (Wiaan) is a smart kid with his feet firmly on the ground despite the good things that have happened to him already. Since he has come into our setup‚ he has done all the right things and he has worked hard‚” Toyana said.
“There are times when we speak to him and you will swear that he has played for five to six years already. He is a positive character‚ he does all the right things and asks the right questions which are good signs.”
This season‚ Toyana will give opportunities to two other younger players in the form of Marques Ackerman and Ryan Rickelton‚ who he said deserve their opportunities in the big time after impressing at junior level.
“Ackerman comes from the North West Dragons‚ he and old Saints boy and this will be like I am picking boys from St Stithians like ‘KG’ [Kagiso Rabada] and Wiaan.
“He is a batter in the middle order and he brings energy to the side. He has done very well in the past two to three years for the Dragons and he deserves his opportunity.
“Rickelton played Africa T20 Cup for us‚ he opens the batting and he is a very good quality cricketer. He reminds me of a young Quinton de Kock with free hands.
“I think as we move forward in our setup our young players in terms of batters are coming through nicely.”