The Knights paceman, Mbulelo Budaza is in line for CSA's One Day Cup Player of the Year award. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
The Knights paceman, Mbulelo Budaza is in line for CSA's One Day Cup Player of the Year award. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Budaza bowled over by progress

By Eshlin Vedan Time of article published Jun 21, 2020

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THERE is no doubt that Knights pace bowler Mbulelo Budaza was one of the most improved cricketers in the South African domestic circuit last season.

The 26-year-old took just five wickets during the 2018/19 One Day Cup season and was nowhere near the top of the top wicket-takers list. Last season, the man who hails from Grahamstown more than tripled his returns by taking 18-wickets from eight games. He finished as the top wicket-taker in the competition.

Reflecting on the massive improvement in his performances, the former Woodridge College student highlighted that working with Proteas legend Allan Donald was a big factor that changed his performance.

“I wanted to do well for the team whenever I got the ball in my hand, especially at the death. Allan Donald played a massive role to improve my game last season as he really worked hard with us as bowlers and as a team we enjoyed working with him. He is calm and understands the game. He has a lot of plans. He is a good coach for any team. We look forward to working with him during the coming season,” said the bowler.

Budaza’s efforts have been rewarded as he is a nominee for the CSA One Day Cup Player of the Year award along with Keshav Maharaj, Grant Roelofsen and Zubayr Hamza. The award will be presented virtually on Saturday, July 4.

Budaza was one of the bright sparks for the Knights team which finished fourth in the One Day Cup in the past season.

He said that his highlight was helping his franchise to beat the Titans twice. During the home fixture against the Titans, he claimed 5-44 to inspire his side to a six-wicket victory. The performance saw him record his best ever List A bowling figures to date.

Budaza claimed 3-26 in the game against the Titans at Centurion. The game was a decider to determine who would advance to the semi-finals to play against the Dolphins. The semi-final was not held due to the Covid-19 crisis, with the Dolphins being awarded the One Day Cup title in lieu of having the best overall record from their 10 games.

“My success was all due to the coaching staff, my teammates, the support of my family and I thank God for giving me the talent to play this game that I love,” said Budaza.

Budaza comes from humble beginnings and was a student at Nathaniel Nyaluza Secondary School in Grahamstown before he earned a scholarship at Woodridge College.

“It’s challenging in Grahamstown and the other townships because we don’t have good facilities in our schools and teachers are not pushing for kids to play cricket. Cricket is not a sport you just play. You need to start at a young age to understand the game,” he said.

Along with the likes of rugby stars Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am, and Makazole Mapimpi, Budaza is yet another sports star from humble beginnings in the Eastern Cape who has reaped the rewards of his hard work and passion.


Sunday Tribune

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