Gqeberha – Tuskers Chief Executive, Jason Sathiaseelan, hopes to retain the many talents the region’s top schools produce as they prepare to compete in Division One cricket next season.
The KwaZulu-Natal Region has a rich history of producing some of the country’s top talents, including the world’s best spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. As a small union, the region was bound to lose it’s talents to bigger, richer unions and the same happened when Shamsi moved over to the Titans in Pretoria where he still plays domestically.
The region’s team, the Tuskers, were drafted to division two cricket when the Dave Richardson commission introduced a new domestic structure. After two years of hard work, the Tuskers have been promoted to Division one following their all-round domination in division two cricket.
The Tuskers chief executive, Jason Sathiaseelan, hopes that their promotion will help them keep their talent home to further grow the game in the region.
“I am now hoping that we can retain the best schoolboy players in the region. We have some amazing schools that have produced many players who are representing other teams. By now having a division one team, I hope players stay in our pipeline. We want to be competitive,” said Sathiaseelan.
“Division one is tough, but we are a small union with a big heart and we believe we will compete.”
The region had a tough start to their season when one of their players, Mondli Khumalo, was almost beaten to death in a pub in the United Kingdom last year. Khumalo was an integral member of the squad and that meant Sathiaseelan and his staff needed to look for a replacement.
The then coach of the Tuskers, Michael Smith, was roped in by the Lions in Johannesburg to serve as batting coach, leaving the Tuskers without a coach just as the season was going to start. But the KZN-Inland staff somehow made it work and found a coach, last minute, in Grant Morgan who led the team to promotion.
All the challenges made this achievement a little more rewarding for Sathiaseelan and the KZN-Inland region.
“It's massive for the Inland region as for the first-time top tier cricket comes to Pietermaritzburg. It now means that KZN has two professional teams in Division 1 as the AET Tuskers join the Dolphins. Bringing the best teams from around the country to the Pietermaritzburg Oval will be a welcome boost for the city,” said Sathiaseelan.
“I always believed that there was enough talent in KZN for two teams. We believed in a process of being competitive and created a winning culture in Pietermaritzburg. When we played senior provincial cricket, KZN Inland won many competitions and this is an extension of that success into professional cricket.”