Sparkling look into SA’s future
Murray Coetzee (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The South Africa Under-19 cricketers saved their best for last as they demolished their England counterparts by nine wickets in the fifth youth one-day international to ensure a clean sweep of the series at Newlands on Thursday.
The result sets up the Ray Jennings-coached outfit nicely for next year’s ICC Under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates - held every two years, South Africa have never won it although they have been runners-up in 2002 and 2008.
It also effectively meant that South Africa have beaten the tourists six times on the trot at U19 level because they had also struck back to win the second four-day Test at Boland Park much earlier in the month and share the spoils 1-1 on that front - the English players are generally more experienced at longer formats of the game.
But the ODI portion of the bilateral series was altogether plainer sailing for the “Baby Proteas” and Thursday’s crushing win was the cherry on top.
Perhaps already with one foot on the plane mentally, the tourists always looked to have come up short when they could only post 210 for eight in their 50 overs.
It was proved to be ridiculously insufficient when the South African opening pair of Murray Coetzee and Clyde Fortuin set off at a rollicking rate of around seven or eight runs to the over against the new ball and were only separated with the score on 199 in the 31st over.
Even that happened under near-freak circumstances as right-handed Capetonian Fortuin, on 99, played a meaty pull to try to bring up three figures in style and was brilliantly caught at shortish midwicket by Ryan Gibson, having faced just 79 deliveries.
He played with wristy, dabbing enterprise a lot of the time, constantly seeking gaps in the field, while Pretoria-born Coetzee, who ended unbeaten on 103 off 111 balls, marked his knock with some particularly smoking pulls and drives.
In a balanced showing earlier from the South African attack, anyone lamenting the fact that the senior national Test side no longer contains a regular black African player since the international retirement of icon Makhaya Ntini
, would have been heartened to see the pace arsenal spearheaded by the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Nqazibini Sigwili and Tshepo Moreki.
The left-arm Sigwili, who is Umtata-born, ended as the top wicket-taker for the series with nine scalps at an average of 17.11.
Meanwhile the player-of-the-series award went to Fortuin, who had boasted prior sizeable innings of 62 and 75 to go with his 99 on Thursday - he was top-scorer in the ODIs across both teams with 291 runs at 58.20.*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing