While admitting their still disappointed for not finishing higher, the South Africa Under-19 cricket team managed to claim fifth place at this year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
It’s a massive improvement on 2016’s lowly 11th.
Local cricket can also look forward to several members of the team making their mark in first-class cricket imminently.\
These were stars to emerge from the tournament.
RAYNARD VAN TONDER
The South African captain could probably be accused of lacking a sense of occasion.
He failed in both his side’s vital clashes with New Zealand (in their last group match) as well as the quarterfinal against Pakistan.
Yet, just when it seemed the team might suffer in confidence and motivation after the loss in the last eight, Van Tonder stepped up.
A fluent 117 against the hosts, in which they gained revenge for the group stage loss, was followed by Wednesday’s unbeaten 82 to clinch fifth against Bangladesh.
Add his opening 143 against Kenya and Van Tonder finished with 348 runs at an average of 70.
And with an injured finger to boot too!
Despite still being a bit raw around the edges, the 18-year-old left-arm quick finished South Africa’s leading wicket-taker with 9.
He progressively bowled better and, pleasingly, finished with a superb economy rate of 4.11.
In this era of batting dominance, that’s a fine achievement.
The fact that Mnyaka is a left-armer means he’ll inherently provide variety to any bowling attack.
He reminded all of the value of having a high-quality all-rounder in any side.
Rolfes’ seam bowling was crucial in the momentous win over the West Indies, the defending champions.
His haul of 4/33 in 1o overs included the scalps of Alick Athanaze and Kirstan Kallicharan, who had threatened to build a match-winning partnership.
Rolfes then crafted a brilliant 108 in a losing cause against New Zealand before making a polished, unbeaten 44 on Wednesday.
202 runs and six wickets attest to his all-round ability.
In a pivotal game against the Windies, Makwetu came in at No 5 and saw his side slump to 112/5.
24 overs later, South Africa reached 282 thanks largely to the talented, feisty wicketkeeper-batsman’s unbeaten 99.
Guts and skill are the two words that spring up when Makwetu is mentioned.
He clearly relishes performing when the chips are down, proving it with another determined 60 after South Africa collapsed against Pakistan.
His glovework was neat.
Makwetu seems to have the temperament to immediately start playing franchise cricket.
He’s got pace, he took 8 wickets and dismantled the hosts with a spell of 5/32.
Plus, Coetzee can smash some vital lower order runs too.
But what will have coach Lawrence Mahatlane smiling even bigger is the fact that Coetzee is still only 17.
It means he can be a key player in 2020 because he’ll still be eligible to play.