Pace sensation Gerald Coetzee, who had suffered a hamstring strain in a recent MSL match, has recovered and was named in South Africa’s squad for the Under-19 World Cup at home in January next year. Allrounder Bryce Parsons was appointed captain of a 15-man squad that is filled with all-round talent. As many as four allrounders were picked, and wicketkeeper Khanya Cotani, who has played eight first-class matches, was named Parsons’ deputy. Odirile Modimokoane was the lone frontline spinner to a find a place.
“Congratulations to all the players who have been selected as well as the management and support staff,” CSA acting chief executive Dr Jacques Faul remarked. “I am sure head coach Lawrence Mahatlane, his fellow selectors and our talent scouts around the country have left no stone unturned in identifying our best players in this age group and that the work done at the various training camps will be well rewarded.”
Coetzee is the only member of the squad to have played in the last World Cup in New Zealand, where he impressed with eight wickets in four matches, including a five-for against the hosts. South Africa had finished fifth in the tournament.
Coetzee also made a bright start on his MSL debut for Jozi Stars, where he picked up the wickets of Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan. The pacer has taken 17 wickets in four first-class matches so far, at an average of less than 25.
Most of the squad assembled has come through the school system, except batsman Tarese Karelse, who is a product of the Regional Performance Centre programme started a few years ago.
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“I feel we have chosen a well-balanced squad that has good leadership potential in its ranks as well,” Under-19 selection convener Victor Mpitsang said. “Having a player who has experienced a previous ICC under-19 World Cup tournament in Gerald Coetzee also brings significant advantages of its own.
“The advantage of playing at home also brings extra confidence into our ranks, particularly as the team has a good programme of competitive youth ODIs leading into the tournament.”
Parsons was the captain of the team through a torrid period earlier this year when they were walloped 7-0 by Pakistan at home. But he had head coach Lawrence Mahatlane’s full backing, who expressed confidence in Parsons’ growth not only as a leader but also as a person over the winter.
“Bryce is a natural leader,” Mahatlane said. “The tone that he has set and the growth we have seen over the last couple of months, it was very natural for us to back him as a leader. He captained the side throughout the winter and we have seen a lot of growth in him, not only tactically, but also as a person. Hopefully, he will keep doing the country proud.”
South Africa will take on India in a three-match series later this month before kicking off their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on January 17, also the tournament opener. They are slotted alongside Afghanistan, Canada and United Arab Emirates in Group D.