SA u19 coach not too bothered by a possible frosty reception
Having experienced a heatwave‚ a cyclone and snow in the last few days‚ a frosty reception is the least of SA u19 coach Lawrence Mahatlane’s concerns on Sunday.
His team returns home after they fell short in the ICC u19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.
They secured fifth spot in the tournament in which a pool defeat to New Zealand and a quarterfinal loss to Pakistan overshadowed victories over Kenya‚ the West Indies‚ New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Mahatlane's team beat Kenya by 169 runs‚ the West Indies by 76 runs‚ before losing to New Zealand in a pool match by 71 runs.
They lost to Pakistan in the Super League quarter finals‚ before going on to beat New Zealand in the Super League semifinal play-off.
They then beat Bangladesh to claim fifth place in the tournament.
Although South Africans will generally find a fifth place finish unpalatable‚ Mahatlane's brief is to develop talent and prepare his players for the rigours of franchise cricket and beyond.
“We played good cricket bar in the quarters.
"Even then we were competitive‚” the coach said while in transit in Sydney after their flight from Queenstown in New Zealand got cancelled.
While captain Raynard von Tonder‚ Wandile Makwetu and Hermann Rolfes played starring roles with the bat and Fraser Jones with the ball‚ the coach was most impressed with the team's collective resolve.
They were less prone to the exuberance of their contemporaries.
“I think the maturity of the group in all matches has been a highlight.
"Given the top order hardly fired in the West Indies game‚ the middle and lower order put on 170 runs for the last five wickets. That was special.
“When I reflect on the entire campaign I can say it was execution that let us down at crucial stages.
"Overall‚ however‚ I think the boys put together some professional performances.
“It is also important to remember they are still u19 and are just starting their careers so they will make mistakes.
“This tournament is where young talented athletes are exposed to the talents of similar kids from around the world.”
As a springboard he believes the tournament and the build up to it served its' purpose.
“As a group these kids (SA u19) have beaten Sri Lanka‚ England‚ Zimbabwe‚ West Indies‚ Namibia‚ Bangladesh‚ Kenya and New Zealand over the last 18 months in different conditions and different continents.
“So their growth has been outstanding and these experiences will stand them in good stead for the future.”
Naturally after a South African team returns from an ICC event without silverware the coach's position is up for debate.
Mahatlane says his contract expires in April.
“I've had no discussions. We always have a review after a tournament but I'm not sure when that will be."
South Africa has a history of underachieving at the event.
Their only success at the tournament came in 2014 and they were runners up in 2002 and 2008.
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