Sunfoil Dolphins cricket player Khayelihlie (Khaya) Zondo can finally tick off getting a Proteas national call-up on his career bucket list.
The player, born and bred in Durban, started playing Bakers Mini-Cricket at the tender age of eight.
The saying that “behind every successful man is a great woman” comes to mind when Zondo reveals that his mother, Sithembile Zondo, introduced him to the sport.
“She was a mini-cricket coach and has been my number one supporter from day one,” he said.
During his school career at Westville High, the athletic Zondo also played rugby.
He considered doing it professionally but decided to focus on cricket. This saw him captaining the school side.
Zondo had just matriculated in 2007 when he got the call-up from the Sunfoil Dolphins to play in a professional setup.
The sportsman is from a home of academics. His father is Judge Raymond Zondo of the Constitutional Court and his mother the head of department of a school in KwaZulu-Natal. Khaya studied towards a bachelor’s in business administration at Varsity College, but didn’t finish, as he found it hard to juggle his career and school.
Zondo says his father warmed to his career choice after he saw his first professional contract.
“My dad didn’t understand cricket. He wanted me to study, but never said I must quit sport,” he said. “He just wanted my main focus to be on academics, but when I brought my first professional contract home for him to read, he was impressed.”
The batsman was selected to play for the South Africa A squad in July in the triangular ODI series in India. He featured in all four games and had the second-best batting average – at 38.50.
Zondo made an outstanding debut for KwaZulu-Natal Inland against North West at the inaugural Africa T20 cup, driving his team’s charge with a score of 68 off just 49 balls. The team will be joining Northerns in the semifinals.
Zondo had a feeling he would get a national call-up, and his confidence was boosted when his pastor, Richard Grey, prophesied it.
“After my pastor, who is also a prophet, gave me a prophecy, I knew something was coming, but I just didn’t know when and how it was going to happen.”
In past years, South Africa has produced black bowlers in the national setup, but few African batsmen. Zondo will be joining Temba Bavuma, though not in the same format.
Zondo hopes more African batsmen will trickle into the Proteas setup as the game transforms and diversifies.
The player has tasted how it feels to be called up to represent the nation and longs to feature in all cricket formats and be an established international cricketer.
He will make his debut for the Oxigen Proteas T20 squad that tours India for 72 days in October. The tour consists of three T20 internationals, five ODIs and four tests.