Lutho Sipamla learning to grow up in the fast lane
That level of maturity will stand him in good stead in his playing days, which he will hope continue for a good few years yet.
Like most sportsmen, Sipamla has endured a frustrating few months holed up under lockdown with little time to train and fitness drills limited to running around a family small holding near Port Elizabeth and going for the odd swim.
But while physically he hasn't maintained the same rigorous training regime, he’s kept his mind busy studying for a B.Comm in marketing.
“My family is very business orientated - my dad’s a businessman, my mom’s a businesswoman - so growing up, my parents were always working and I took to what they were doing. I observed them and took a liking to business and that’s why B-Comm is something I decided to do after high school,” said Sipamla.
The Grey High School graduate said education was important.
“Cricket is a very short-lived career, you need something to fall back on after playing cricket. You need qualifications, which will help you in a different field. I feel like having an education qualification will help me transition much quicker after cricket.”
But "after cricket" is hopefully still a long way off for the fast bowler who made a huge impression in the inaugural Mzansi Super League in 2018.
Later in the 2018/19 season he made his international debut in the T20 format, followed last season by his first cap in the One-Day International version.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he said of the four ODIs he played - three against England and one against Australia.
“We were a young side but everyone was working towards the same goal and played as a unit.”
His best performance came in the ODI at the Wanderers, which the Proteas lost. Sipamla shone by almost bowling the hosts to victory, taking 1/42 in 9.2 overs. It was a mature performance in which his skill and temperament were tested.
“The Australian series was special. I felt everyone knew what they had to do in that series, they executed what the team needed them to execute. Everyone grew through the campaign,” he said.
Lockdown and the halting of all sport has meant Sipamla has not had the opportunity to build on the confidence achieved through that series.
What has helped his growth is working alongside former international players like Proteas head coach Mark Boucher - who he first crossed paths with in the 2018 MSL when drafted for the Tshwane Spartans - and more recently with Charl Langeveldt, Justin Ontong and Jacques Kallis.
“They know what it takes to be a good international player. When they tell us things, we can relate because they’ve experienced it themselves,” said Sipamla.
“Charl Langeveldt bowled at the death, he’s had to defend seven runs in an over and knows the process you go through as a bowler, what you are thinking and what you have to overcome.”
It’s helped accelerate Sipamla’s learning, which he’s always been keen to do. That partly motivated his move from the Eastern Cape to Gauteng at the end of last season to take up a contract with the Central Gauteng Lions.
Besides the hard and bouncy pitches on the Highveld, Sipamla also wants to bowl with greater control “and learn to bowl tight lines - I’m looking forward to that aspect of being a bowler”.
“It’s going to be tough leaving behind my family but I want to grow as a player and as an individual as well.”