On Tuesday, Highveld Lions all-rounder Wiaan Mulder completed a meteoric rise after he was called up to the Proteas’ ODI squad for the remainder of the series against Bangladesh.
Amazingly, he’s still only 19-years-old and replaces the injured Wayne Parnell.
The strapping rookie has been destined for big things ever since he made his first-class debut last season.
But who exactly is he?
He was educated at St Stithians, where he would’ve rubbed shoulders with his new Proteas teammate Kagiso Rabada (who is three years older).
Mulder was identified early as an age group star for the national Under-19 side.
He appeared in 2015 already and went to the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2016.
A few month’s later, Mulder was promoted to the captaincy for a mid-year tour to Sri Lanka.
Lions coach Geoff Toyana had no qualms about throwing him in at the deep end and he ended his first senior first-class campaign with a century and 23 wickets at an average of 16.73.
Mulder impressed sufficiently to go on tour with South Africa ‘A’ and took three wickets against Sussex in one warm-up match.
With newfound experience in the bag, he started this season’s four-day competition with a bang.
He took 4/70 and scored 79 against the Warriors before hitting a career-best 127 not out and 70 against the Titans and Dolphins respectively.
How did his call up exactly happen?
I got the call from the national selectors at about 15:00 on Monday. I hadn’t actually got in to bat yet (Monday was the first day of the four-day meeting between the Lions and Knights in Potchefstroom). Coach Geoff told me I’d have to be replaced by someone else in the game. I asked him if I should still go bat and he said ‘Of course, you’re still part of this team’. I was very happy and just tried to stay not out overnight so that my replacement could take over on the second day. It’s a funny feeling when you leave in the middle of the game but I’m incredibly excited.
What is Mulder’s secret for performing so well at such a young age?
(Proteas Test opener) Aiden Markram told me something a few months ago that I really took to heart. He told me just to go out and be myself. I’m not supposed to prove something to anybody and be somebody I’m not. At this stage, just having that freedom, that piece of mind knowing no matter what happens doesn’t matter too much has really helped me. I just want to be myself. I’m not too worried about what the guys are saying. A lot of youngsters struggled with that because you want to be noticed, you want to be the ‘big guy’.
Does he favour batting or bowling more?
The wickets have been quite good to bat on the past few weeks. Just because I’ve made a bit of runs doesn’t mean batting will be my dominant skill. It has been something I’ve worked hard on because I want to be a batsman who can bowl. I’m just going to do my best in both disciplines.
Who is his role models?
(Legendary Proteas all-rounder) Jacques Kallis has always been a role model. I watched him since I was a small boy and always said I wanted to be like him. Out of cricket is definitely Roger Federer. I like the way he approaches every match, how he trains and how mentally strong he is. His example has driven me in tough situations.