Wonderkid picks up baton

As Colin Ingram prepares to face the Sydney Thunder on Friday, promising Matthew Breetzke will be looking to make an impression on his expected white ball debut for the Warriors this week.

It will be a short turnaround for the Warriors, who come up against the Highveld Lions in the opening game of the Momentum One-Day Cup in Johannesburg tomorrow.

Just last Wednesday they were competing in a spot for the Ram Slam T20 Challenge final and a few days later they are shifting their mind-set to the 50-over white ball version.

They will have to do so without one of their “gun” players, Colin Ingram, who has been snapped up by the Adelaide Strikers for Australia’s Big Bash League which starts today.

But as one star disappears through the revolving door exit for now, an up-and-coming young batsman is ready to emerge from the entrance and grasp his opportunity.

Former Grey High learner Breetzke, 19, forged himself quite a reputation coming through the youth ranks in the last few seasons, and this year scored three hundreds for the South Africa U19 side.

He has also been chosen to represent South Africa at the U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand from January 13 to February 3 and is expected to be one of the leading lights in that tournament.

He played one first-class game for the Warriors earlier in the season, but now the talented right-hander is being backed by Warriors caretaker coach Rivash Gobind to fill Ingram’s spot in the limited-overs team.

“I think Colin is already in Australia and that is a big loss,” Gobind said yesterday. “I’m not going to sugarcoat that. He is one of the best, if not the best domestic white ball players around the world at the moment. He is very sought-after. I think any domestic team would love to have him.

“With that being said, we’ve brought in young Breetzke as a replacement for him. I love what I see from him,” the stand-in coach said.

Gobind believes Breetzke has what it takes to go all the way to the top and has enough belief in him to thrust him into Ingram’s role.

“I think he’s going to be a fantastic player for the Warriors and for South Africa in the future. It’s not if he is going to play for South Africa, it’s when.

“That’s how highly I rate him and it’s going to be great to see what he brings to us before he heads over to the U19 World Cup.

“He knows what we expect. We expect him to go out there and make runs and he’s got the game and the mentality to do that.

“He’s really exciting for us as a franchise. It’s been a while since we have had someone that we can really get excited about and he could be the first of many to come.”

Gobind was making reference to the fact that the Warriors franchise has five players in the SA U19 World Cup squad in Breetzke, Keenan Smith and Jade de Klerk (all EP) and Jason Niemand, Akhona Mnyaka (both Border).

“If you look at our SA U19 team, there are a few guys from the Eastern Cape in there and they are the main guys in that team. They are the ones winning the games and it’s brilliant for us as a franchise and a region.”

Gobind has taken over the position vacated by Malibongwe Maketa, who has joined the national side as coach Ottis Gibson’s assistant.

He says there are differences in character between Maketa and himself and that brings about a different sort of energy.

“In terms of personnel, every coach believes different things about different players. That’s just human nature. Maybe the people I feel can do a job may be slightly different to what Mali thinks.”

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