Into the breach for young Border brigade

The best U17 cricket players from around the country will be in action in East London as the CSA U17 cricket week kicks off at various venues across the city today.

A CIRCLE OF HOPE: Border U17 players huddle up during a training session at Buffalo Park yesterday ahead of the CSA U17 cricket week getting under way across East London today Picture: MICHAEL PINYANA

Sixteen teams from all the provinces in South Africa will be gunning for glory.

“We are very excited for the week and are looking forward to the top-class cricket we should be seeing across the city,” said Border cricket chief executive Thando Booi.

“All plans are in place. We are ready and excited for the young cricketers.

“For us we always want to make sure that we provide a unique experience, and we believe that it is all set to be an amazing experience for everyone involved.”

The Border U17 team, who as the hosts will be eager to impress, got stuck into a final training session at Buffalo Park yesterday, where they prepared for their opening match today.

The team will be looking to get off to a good start against KwaZulu-Natal Inland to set them up for the rest of the week.

“This is a really good squad of players. I am happy with the side picked. I don’t see any weaknesses in this team. We have all of our bases covered and we just have to focus on doing the basics right and the rest will take care of itself,” said Border U17 assistant coach Mfundo Gege.

“But what is most important is how we start and end the tournament.

“First game is against KZN Inland and we are targeting a win. We want to build some momentum and consistency to take into the rest of the week which will be crucial for us.

“Most of the players have said they want to win at least four of the six games we play, but I have said that I want this team to win the tournament. I think we are good enough and that is what we will be aiming for.”

The team has enjoyed a good buildup to the week, including playing against the Border U19 team.

“The buildup and training for the week has been tough because we have been playing against the Coke team and those players’ standards are very high,” said Gege.

“But the preparation has been really good and I am happy. The guys have worked really hard. They have worked on their combinations and they all have fitted into the team very well.

“I think playing against the Coke side has benefited them a lot, because playing them was like a practical practice session where we were learning from the team,” he said.

The Border team’s first game today, a time cricket (declaration) match, will be played at Alfred Schoeman in Buffalo Flats.

Their next three games will all be played at Hudson Park, with them taking on Western Province in time cricket tomorrow, and then KZN and Mpumalanga in T20 matches on Friday.

Border U17 squad: Matthew Ferrant, Stuart Els, Aiden van Wyk, Ethan Boucher, Tristan Alexander (Selborne College); Nonelela Yikha (v-capt), Akhanya Rebe, Luvo Ntsekwa (Hudson High); Phillip Nel (capt), Ababalwe Jakatyana (Stirling High); Bayolise Tunyiswa (Ntabenkonyana High); Emihle Mgoqi (Dale College); Anda Duda (Queen’s College)

Head coach: Shannon Musto (Border Cricket); Assistant coach: Mfundo Gege (Mdantsane Hub/Border Cricket); Manager: Zukile Mbelu (Dale College).

l In other cricket Week action around the country, Border players have been impressing.

In the girls U19 week in PE, Asakhe Nyovane produced fantastic figures of 7/40 with the ball, to lead the Border U19 girls side to a convincing six-wicket win over their Mpumalanga counterparts on the first day, and they followed that up with another six-wicket win on day two, this time over Northern Cape.

In the U15 week the Border side lost one and won one of their T20 games on day three and then beat Mpumalanga in their one-day match on day four, with Akhona Ratyana impressing with superb figures of 4/30. — Additional reporting by Yolulwe Qoshe