JOHANNESBURG - Tony de Zorzi, David Bedingham and Janneman Malan. In the last week, in different formats and different places, that trio scored centuries that made the cricketing fraternity in this country - and in De Zorzi’s case further afield - sit up and pay attention.
De Zorzi is 21, Malan 22 and Bedingham 24. Throw in Zubayr Hamza, 23, and the future of South African batting looks rosy. That’s important given the long rumoured exits of several stalwarts that are supposed to occur next year - whether immediately after the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales or later in the year even.
Highlighting the performances of De Zorzi in Abu Dhabi for the Titans in a T20 tournament and Bedingham and Malan - for the Cape Cobras in the four-day match at the Wanderers against the Lions - isn’t to burden them with pressure and expectation.
Rather, it is to point out that a cupboard which seemed bare last season, or for that matter the one before that, is in fact not and that there is reason to be optimistic about South Africa’s batting once the likes of Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla eventually step aside.
De Zorzi, a former SA Under-19 captain, scored a match winning 106 off only 57 balls in a T20 match against an Afghanistan franchise team. The attack, despite containing Kyle Abbott, wasn’t the best, but the manner of De Zorzi’s strokeplay - creative and authoritative - caught the eye of no less a pair of luminaries than Brian Lara and Mahela Jayawardena, who were in the Emirates to commentate on the tournament.
De Zorzi’s professional career has taken a while longer to blossom than he would have liked, and he has to show that the strides he made in the latter stages of last season are merely a foundation for his career.
Titans coach Mark Boucher has said he is expecting big things from De Zorzi this season, and it’s an encouraging sign to see him start the season trying to live up to those expectations. Cobras coach Ashwell Prince made no such claims about Malan and Bedingham.
Malan was the leading run-scorer in the three-day, semi-professional competition last season, and given that output and the manner he played at the Wanderers this week, its astonishing the Lions franchise allowed him to slip through their fingers.
Bedingham is something of a late developer, his career having been halted by a severe car accident, but under Prince’s tutelage, his talents will be given every opportunity to flourish.
The manner in which he and Malan sought to take advantage after the Lions were bowled out cheaply on day one this week, suggested a maturity that belied their ages and inexperience.
With the South Africa ‘A’ coach Russell Domingo watching, they both made an impression and if the potential shown here can be backed by consistent output, Domingo will have some new faces in his A-side, who may then, hopefully, take the next step up the ladder.
2 centurions, 2 young stars, 2 Players of the Day.big Day 3 on the cards at Bidvest Wanderers pic.twitter.com/TO06fd5H2N