SA U19s committed and confident ahead of World Cup, says Parsons

SA U19s committed and confident ahead of World Cup, says Parsons
South Africa’s Under-19 captain Bryce Parsons said his team is committed and confident ahead of the U19 World Cup which will be played in SA in January next year.

Parsons will lead a 15-player group in the tournament, which kicks off on 17 January with a match between South Africa and Afghanistan. The junior Proteas will be looking to improve on their fifth-place showing at the 2018 tournament in New Zealand.

“It’s exciting to be leading the nation,” said Parsons, a graduate of King Edwards VII School in Johannesburg.

“I think for all of us we are really committed to the journey, our preparation has been really good. We have (a) good bunch of boys, here, really mature, so we are very excited about our future aspirations.”

The squad, named yesterday, features just one player who played in New Zealand in 2018.

Gerald Coetzee, named in the team of the tournament last year, is seen as one of the stand-out young players in South Africa and will be a vital weapon for Parsons.

The lanky Free State all-rounder is one of the few players in the squad who’ve had a taste of franchise cricket, and impressed for the Knights in four matches in the Four-Day Franchise Series, taking 17 wickets.

He is still recovering after pulling a hamstring muscle while playing for the Jozi Stars in the Mzansi Super League, but according to South Africa Under-19 coach, Lawrence Mahatlane, he should be ready to play in a quadrangular series in early January, which will be the team’s final preparation ahead of the World Cup.

“He ran a 2km time-trial the other day, so he is on track,” said Mahatlane.

Much of the team’s preparations at a two-week camp, which finished at the weekend, centred around in-game problem solving and while the bad weather in Gauteng did hamper out-door training Mahatlane was happy with what the players got out of the camp.

“The weather has in a way been a blessing in disguise, we were able to do quite a lot of classroom work and improving the players awareness.”

Some of the outdoor work included facing a few semi-professional teams, to help the players - many of whom have only played at schoolboy level - adjust to a higher standard.

At the World Cup they are likely to face players who have already played senior international cricket.

“The players realise it’s not schoolboy cricket, it’s not only about surviving the good bowler and then cashing in, it’s about ‘how do I start scoring off good balls.’

“We’ve improved as a group in terms of that,” said Mahatlane.

South Africa will play current Under-19 champions India in a three-match series in East London in the last week of December.

They will then play in a quadrangular series featuring India, Zimbabwe and New Zealand as part of their final preparations for the tournament.

South Africa are in Group D at next year’s World Cup, along with Afghanistan, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

South Africa Under-19 World Cup squad: Bryce Parsons (capt), Khanya Cotani (vice-capt), Luke Beaufort, Jonathan Bird, Merrick Brett, Achille Cloete, Gerald Coetzee, Tyrese Karelse, Mondli Khumalo, Jack Lees, Andrew Louw, Levert Manje, Odirile Modimokoane, Pheko Moletsane, Tiaan van Vuuren.