JOHANNESBURG – Gihahn Cloete’s form in last year’s One-Day Cup could not have been more timely.
It was a break-out season of sorts for the 26-year-old, a member of South Africa’s Under-19 World Cup side in 2012 that included Quinton de Kock and Theunis de Bruyn.
Cloete has not attained the heights that pair have in their professional careers, but the 2017/18 season seems to have been a major turning point.
Cloete, born in Atlantis in the Western Cape, spent hundreds of hours in the off-season prior to last season refining skills and technique under then-Warriors coach and current Proteas assistant coach Malibongwe Maketa.
“I have to give Mali a lot of credit for all the skills work he did with me, but after he left, current Warriors coach Rivash Gobind did a lot of work with me on the mental side of the game, it’s been very beneficial,” said Cloete.
The 546 runs he scored in the One-Day Cup last season illustrates those benefits, and as a result, he got picked first for the SA A team that toured India in the winter, and then for the senior national team for the T20 series against Zimbabwe.
And then came the Mzansi Super League draft, where Cloete pocketed a cool R250 000 after being picked up in round seven by the Tshwane Spartans.
“It’s been a good few months for me,” he said yesterday after enjoying a round of golf at the Durban Country Club in the company of Spartans captain AB de Villiers, coach Mark Boucher and a handful of other players and members of the coaching staff.
“The T20 debut didn’t go as well as I’d have liked. There were a lot of nerves, but I enjoyed the time with the national team,” he said of his debut in East London, when he scored two.
Cloete’s time with the Spartans has been enjoyable. “They really do push positive thinking here – it’s why AB has been so successful, and Bouch has been successful as a coach.
“They want you to play with freedom, to be positive, but also not to just think about your own game plan, but beyond that too.”
Cloete scored 80 in last Sunday’s thrilling one-run win against the Paarl Rocks at Boland Park.
He shared a partnership of 101 for the first wicket with De Bruyn and then 77 for the second wicket with De Villiers. The latter was an eye-opening experience.
“He (De Villiers) was communicating with me all the time, and he kept giving me more options against their bowlers. There was one over where he kept telling me what the bowler would bowl and where to hit, it was amazing, he was just one step ahead of the bowler the whole time,” Cloete said.
Cloete has quickly established himself as a key part of the Spartans line-up – an opening batsman who keeps, his role is crucial helping to balance the starting team.
The Spartans face the Heat in Durban today (2pm start) pitting most of the players and the coaching staff up against a player they are very familiar with, Heat captain Albie Morkel.
“I haven’t really felt any kind of change in atmosphere in the squad because we are facing Albie, we are all too focused on what we are doing.
“We had the Zimbabwean guys (Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams) arrive today, and we’ve been talking about the importance of the whole squad,” said Cloete.@shockerhess