JOHANNESBURG – Perhaps wary after the awful outcome at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup tournament, Raynard van Tonder was measured in assessing this year’s South African Under-19 class ahead of the 2018 tournament that starts in New Zealand on January 13.
“We want to win the World Cup, we are not going there just to compete, but we can’t expect that everything will go perfectly. We will do our best,” said skipper Van Tonder.
The junior Proteas play their opening game in the tournament on January 14 against Kenya in Lincoln, a small town situated east of Christchurch. The South Africans are in the same group as the host nation and the defending champions the West Indies, but Van Tonder believes they are well-equipped to have a deep run in the competition.
“If I look back at previous world cups, this is the most games the Under-19s have played before going into a tournament. We’ve prepared well, so it’s important that we get it together in the games,” he said at Cricket SA’s Centre of Excellence yesterday where his side had practice match against a Tuks University team.
“We are a nicely balanced side. We bat deep, we’ve got batters in form and our openers are going well. From a seam bowling perspective we’ve got strike bowlers and some good spinners for the middle overs.”
The previous Under-19 World Cup saw South Africa - then defending champions - finish an embarrassing 11th out of 16 teams, losing to Namibia and Zimbabwe.
This year’s group have sought advice from the group that won the tournament in 2014, with Kagiso Rabada, a guest at the recent Khaya Majola Week, a popular source from which to draw some tips.
Van Tonder has also swapped notes with one of the lesser lights from the 2014 squad, off-spinner Driaan Bruwer. “The main thing was that as a team we need to stay together, because there will be tough times. If you are not gelled together strongly, you will break up and that will make things very difficult. As a team we’ve had some tough times, but we’ve had some good times recently so I think we will do well.”
Van Tonder said opener Matthew Breetzke and new ball bowler Gerald Coetzee were two players he was expecting big things from in New Zealand. Breetzke has been in very good form for the Under-19s in the last 12 months.
In a recent triangular series featuring England and Namibia, Breetzke scored two half-centuries and one century, and having recently been a part of the Warriors franchise side and also an Invitational XI that faced Bangladesh - and contained the likes of AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Aiden Markram - that experience will stand him in good stead.