Junior Proteas start U-19 World Cup against India in the West Indies

15 January 2022 - 11:15
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Coach Shukri Conrad and captain George van Heerden during the SA Under-19 capping ceremony at Kingsmead in Durban on December 6 2021.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images Coach Shukri Conrad and captain George van Heerden during the SA Under-19 capping ceremony at Kingsmead in Durban on December 6 2021.

With SA having registered a convincing 2-1 Test series win over India in Cape Town on Friday, they will be at each other’s throats again at junior level in their opening match of the ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.

The Junior Proteas and India will get Group B under way on Saturday at 3pm (SA time) at the Providence Stadium where both teams will be looking to get their campaign off to a winning start.

After exchanging blows with the Indians, the Junior Proteas will take on Uganda on Tuesday before wrapping up the pool stages against unpredictable Ireland on Friday.

SA captain George van Heerden expressed his and the team’s excitement and eagerness to hit the ground running in the tournament.

“To be honest, I have never played games with so little rest time before in my life,” Van Heerden said.

“So two to three days between games is quite a lot and the thing is for us, we are so keen to get out on the park now. Having been here for such a long time with the tour against the West Indies before this will help us.

“We are extremely excited. Last night a few of us were chatting about all of the SA players that have gone before us with the names like Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada and all the other guys who have been in our seat. It has been absolutely amazing.

“It’s such a great opportunity for all of us and just seeing the people that are walking around the hotel — this morning I saw Simon Doull, Samuel Badree, Curtly Ambrose — has been eye-opening. We are all just very excited about what’s to come.”

After competing in last year’s Cricket SA (CSA) Provincial T20 Knockout competition against professional players, the SA U-19 team travelled to the West Indies for a four-match Youth ODI series in testing conditions in the Caribbean. 

They played two warm-up matches, including an inter-squad game after their first game against Australia was postponed, before another contest against the West Indies to end demanding preparations for the players.

SA coach Shukri Conrad said the team is in high spirits and wary of India, who finished as runners-up in 2020 and won the 2018 edition.

“Everybody is in a good space, both from a skills point of view and from a psychological point of view," Conrad said.

“We haven’t really seen them [India]. We watched a little bit of their warm-up game yesterday and I don’t see them as favourites going into this game as we want to start ridding ourselves of the underdog tag; especially when we come up against India.

“We know they are a very good side and are probably a dangerous side, but so are we. They obviously have ability, they play quite an aggressive brand but ultimately, if we stay disciplined and stick to the gameplans we put in place, and are able to execute, there is no reason why we can’t beat them come Saturday.”

2022 ICC Men’s U19 Cricket World Cup — SA U19 Squad: George van Heerden (Warriors), Liam Alder (Lions), Matthew Boast (KZN Inland), Dewald Brevis (Titans), Michael Copeland (Boland), Ethan Cunningham (Western Province), Valentine Kitime (Titans), Kwena Maphaka (Lions), Gerhard Maree (Free State), Aphiwe Mnyanda (Warriors), Andile Simelane (KwaZulu-Natal Inland), Jade Smith (Warriors), Kaden Solomons (Western Province), Joshua Stephenson (Warriors), Asakhe Tshaka (Western Province)

Travelling Reserves: Hardus Coetzer (Titans), Ronan Hermann (Titans), Caleb Seleka (North West)

Management: Shukri Conrad (head coach), Thabang Khumalo (assistant coach), Blanche Conradie (manager), Phumzile Ngobese (physiotherapist), Curtley Diesel (fitness trainer), Kyle Southgate (video analyst), Rory Kleinveldt (bowling consultant), Neil McKenzie (batting consultant), Salih Solomons (doctor)