Thando Ntini is arguably a better batsman than his famous father Makhaya. Photo: @wp_cricket via Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The announcement of the end-of-year age-group teams of Western Province are exciting, in particular with the inclusion of former Proteas bowler Makhaya Ntini’s son, Thando, in the Under-19 A group and the inclusion of world-class 18-year-old Proteas Women opener Laura Wolvaardt among the girls.

Western Province recently produced Michael Cohen, who made his first-class debut at the age of 18. The swing bowler nipped out 6/49 in that maiden appearance.

Wolvaardt, an Under-19 player of Western Province and a South African stalwart, was selected for the team of the tournament during the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup.

She was named as one of the openers of the global team in recognition of her 324 runs during the campaign, in which the Proteas Women reached the semi-finals.

The matric learner and head girl of Parklands High School also hammered a career-high 149 for the senior Proteas Women against Ireland.

Cohen’s performances, like that of Wolvaardt, are testimony to the type of players the pipeline structures of Western Province can produce.

Clinton du Preez, Cricket Services Manager of the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) was pleased with the current depth in the province.

“There are two ways to measure the strength of age-group teams. One is if your teams feature in the final game of the tournament against the other strongest performer in all of the age group weeks,” said Du Preez.

“The previous year we had no teams competing in that final game, but we are aware of some shortfalls and have looked into it for 2017. The other objective is to see how many players progress into the South African age-group teams.

Laura Wolvaardt was one of the top run-scorers at the Women's World Cup this year. Photo: John Sibley/Reuters

“We have also focused on our high-performance girls to ensure that we selected Under-13 and Under-16 age group girls who will contest in the regional tournaments at the end of the year,” Du Preez added.

“Two years ago, Michael was drafted into the South African U19 A team after representing the Cobras Cubs. After that, he played one semi-professional game for Western Province and produced a match-haul of 6/49 in his maiden first-class game.

“He signed a semi-professional contract and was included in the National Academy squad and the South African Invitational team to play Bangladesh,” said

Du Preez about the impressive progress made by the left-arm swing bowler.

Ntini was selected for the SA Under-19 team while only 16, and is considered an exciting emerging all-rounder.

He is arguably boasting greater talent with the blade than his famous father, Makhaya, who captured 390 Test scalps as an athletic fast bowler.

African News Agency (ANA)