It was not so long ago when a 22-year-old fast bowler from KwaZulu-Natal took a leap of faith to go to the Western Cape to seek playing opportunities.
Having represented KZN Coastal at the under-19 level and also the South Africa Under-19 side in two ODIs, Tshepo Moreki never received a contract at the KZN-based Dolphins.
That’s when the fast bowler travelled to Cape Town to join the then-Cape Cobras (now Western Province) during the 2015/16 season.
Despite having won the contract, a milestone in a young man’s career, Moreki faced yet another challenge.
The Cobras had Wayne Parnell, Rory Kleinveldt and Vernon Philander leading the attack, meaning the youngster had to wait his turn. After the odd match here and there, Moreki packed his bags and moved up-country to join the Titans in Pretoria in 2018.
Under head coach Mark Boucher and assistant Mandla Mashimbyi, Moreki’s game matured as he became more consistent and mastered the art of bowling in-swingers.
A couple of years later, an opportunity to lead the attack back in Cape Town came knocking, and Moreki answered coach Ashwell Prince’s calls and returned to the Mother City for a second stint.
From that point onwards he became a reliable operator – the type of bowler a captain gives the ball to when a wicket is needed – and that was primarily because of his work ethic and overall improvement over the years.
Now aged 30 and a Johannesburg-based Lions player, Moreki led South Africa A to a respectable position on the second day of the first four-day match against West Indies A at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Wednesday.
The fast bowler’s unrelenting character carried the team when West Indies A opening batters Tagenarine Chanderpaul (78 off 150) and Zachary McCaskie (31 off 58) were dictating terms with the score on 66/0 after 16 overs.
Moreki strikes back
Moreki accounted for McCaskie and Kirk McKenzie in the same over to pull the hosts right back into the game.
Hardus Viljoen (2/92), back in national colours for the first time since his Test debut against England in 2015/16, picked up two wickets in the second session yesterday.
However, when Kevin Sinclair came in to bat, momentum seemed to swing back the visitors’ way as the lower-order batter struck five fours on his way to a 47-ball 39. This was when captain Neil Brand called on his ‘workhorse’ Moreki to get the prized wicket of Sinclair.
Moreki did just that when he trapped Sinclair lbw to hand SA A their seventh wicket, with the hosts’ lead sitting at 19 runs with three wickets remaining.
A cameo from tail-ender Akeem Jordan (40 off 50) saw the visitors cross the 287-run mark that the hosts had set on day one, and they surpassed it to declare on 314/9 before inserting the hosts in to bat for the second time with just over 15 minutes left.
Ultimately, fast bowler Moreki was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/56 in 19 overs as he helped SA A contain the visitors, and set the game up for Tony de Zorzi and Neil Brand to carry the team to the close of play at 3/0.