JOHANNESBURG – Participating in the University Sports SA week in December and striking two half-centuries bolstered Zubayr Hamza’s confidence.
And he is still on course to become the 100th Protea to be selected since South Africa’s reintroduction into the international fold in 1991/92.
Hamza, the 23-year-old number three batsman of the Cape Cobras, was selected in a 13-man squad for the three-match Test series against Pakistan starting at SuperSport Park in Centurion on December 26.
Linda Zondi, convenor of the CSA national selection panel, described Hamza as one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year.
And he carried that form into the South Africa ‘A’ tour to India, where he averaged 52 in the four-day series.
Hamza scored 59 in the win for the University of the Western Cape against the NMMU, and added an unbeaten 59 against the University of Cape Town.
“Not only are there a number of provincial players in the USSA week, but it also gave me opportunity to spend time in the middle,” Hamza said.
Reflecting on his career to date, Hamza acknowledged the match against the Warriors when he was drafted into the side after injury to Simon Khomari as a turning point of his career in 2017/2018.
He immediately struck 111 and added 237 runs for the second wicket with Pieter Malan against the Warriors.
In the 2017/2018 season, he finished with 828 runs at an average of 69, having only scored 151 runs in four games in the previous season.
Hamza heaped praise on Ashwell Prince, and said he explained to the players what is expected at this level and also what the psychological expectations are if you are to represent South Africa.
As a combination, Prince, coach of the Cobras, and Faiek Davids, assistant coach of the Cobras, have had a big impact on his career.
Davids was the one that showed confidence in him and selected him for Western Province, while Prince, who played in 66 Tests for South Africa, was instrumental in improving the mental aspect of his game.
“Ashwell elevated the mental part of our game, having played for South Africa for a long time and knowing what is expected to be successful at that level.”
There is also a special “vibe” in the Cape Cobras team under the coaching of Prince and Davids, he added.
Andrew Puttick, batting consultant of Western Province and the Cape Cobras, said: “Contrary to articles floating around, which gave me credit for Zubayr’s evolvement, I have not worked with him much this season.
“The great work has been done by coach Ashwell Prince and his assistant Faiek Davids, and as Zuby stated, there have been massive contributions from Shukri Conrad during his time at the Academy, and from SA ‘A’ coach Russell Domingo.”
Nabeal Dien, chief executive of the Cape Cobras, added: “I am very proud of this selection of Zubayr into the South African squad, and I’m equally chuffed with the impact that the coaching staff of Ashwell and Faiek has had in his selection for the 13-man squad of South Africa.”
African News Agency (ANA)