DURBAN - A struggling family’s lack of cash nearly stopped the cricket career of up-and-coming Hollywoodbets Dolphins player Kerwin Mungroo when he started high school.
However, things took a turn for the better for the 1.98m, 23-year-old fast bowler, who last week took five wickets against the Warriors in Port Elizabeth, when Ladysmith Secondary School teacher Gordon Kathan told him: “You don’t need money to play cricket.”
“He started the African United Club, mostly for black Africans. We were the worst team in the league at first and, after two years, we were winning all the trophies and cups,” Kerwin recalled.
“We did all the odd jobs, like going to the ground in the morning to take off the covers. We just wanted to play cricket. After a few years, we became really good and we dominated the league.”
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“Because of his lack of school cricket, I brought him into the club (rather than the school team),” Kathan told The Independent on Saturday.
“He grew from strength to strength, making history in Ladysmith. He’s a strong character and a lovely young man.”
Kathan said he was kept informed about Mungroo’s bowling victory against the Warriors by receiving a string of messages from Port Elizabeth.
Back in the yard, though, Mungroo would battle to bowl out his older brother, Sheldon.
“We would stop for lunch and after lunch I would still be bowling to him. He likes to say it was he who made me a bowler.”
Sheldon said his younger brother would bat first, briefly, then spend the rest of the day bowling to him, well into the evenings.
“As he grew older, he started bowling full tosses,” revealed Sheldon.
Mungroo usually bats at number 11 and finds it quite scary facing a bowler like himself.
“I don’t enjoy batting and I know there are lots of bowlers who want to be batsmen. I’m one of those bowlers who don’t want to be a batsman, and I’ll say that proudly. I don’t want to be a batsman,” he insisted.
Mungroo hasn’t forgotten his Ladysmith roots.
Although another older brother, Aston, chipped in to help with transport and other costs upon finding a job straight after matric, Mungroo remembers the pain of not being able to attend a coaching session by a visiting overseas star because the required R280 fee was too much for his family to cough up.
So last November, he slipped back to Ladysmith from his current Pietermaritzburg home, to offer free coaching to schoolchildren.
“I had around 400 kids pitch up. It was amazing just to see how many liked cricket. I was on my own. The next time I do it, I’ll need some friends volunteering with me.”
Mungroo’s cricket matured in the Eastern Cape after he was scouted to join the University of Fort Hare’s Cricket Academy on a bursary. Former Proteas player Mfuneko Ngam was his coach.
“That’s where I started working on my action. Before that I was just a raw cricketer,” said Mungroo.
While living in the Eastern Cape, he ended up in the Warriors Under-23 Colts team.
Back home, he made his way into the KwaZulu-Natal Inland team, first attending practices and then getting a slot when another player became injured.
“But after that guy – Attie Maposa – got better, Shane Burger (the coach) kept me in the team.”
A stint of county cricket in Shropshire, in England, followed and then he returned to KwaZulu-Natal Inland and Hollywoodbets Dolphins.
In the near future, Mungroo would like to play in all three formats for the Hollywoodbets Dolphins: T20, 50 overs and four-day competitions.
“Ultimately, I would obviously like to play for South Africa,” he said.
Later in life, he would like to coach. But in the meantime he’s focused on the KwaZulu-Natal Inland team for which he practises from his Pietermaritzburg base, while Hollywoodbets Dolphins require him to travel to Durban.
The day before leaving for Port Elizabeth, where he got his five wickets last week, he took his girlfriend, law student Nichole Khan, to a Durban practice.
“My friends told me it was because I brought her that I got my five wickets and that I must bring her again.”