The Coca-Cola South Africa under-19 cricket team go into Saturday’s second Coca-Cola Youth Test against England under-19 in Paarl looking to put into practice the lessons learned in their 107 run defeat in the first Test last week.
SA coach, Ray Jennings says that, while it was disappointing to be so comprehensively beaten, there were some positives to take out of the game, and some important lessons.
“Our youth play mainly limited overs cricket at schools and junior level and our batsmen were not quite sure how to handle the longer 4 day game,” said Jennings. “This showed in the way they were going for big shots at inappropriate times during the first Test and the result was that we were bowled out in less than 60 overs in both innings. We have been talking about it, and working hard at it ahead of the second game.”
The English players, on the other hand, play a lot more of the longer versions of the game, Jennings points out, and it showed in their patient approach to building their innings.
“We have made one or two changes to our batting order for the second Coca-Cola Youth Test, and we have been talking all week about shot selection and patience and I am looking for an improvement from our batsmen in those departments.”
Jennings feels that the impact of fast bowler Craig Kirsten, injury after bowling just four overs in the first Test, has been under-estimated. “It put tremendous pressure on the rest of our attack and led to England getting far more runs in their first innings than they should have,” he said.
“Our performance with the ball in their second inning was one of the most professional I have ever seen at under-19 level. To keep their run-rate down to 1.9 per over, with one bowler short was a great performance and something we can build on in the second Test.”
Jennings singled out the performance of quick bowler Lizaard Williams as the big highlight of the first Test.
“The smoothness of his action and the way he glides through the crease reminds me of Dale Steyn and I am confident that we are looking at a Proteas player within the next 18 month,” he said.
As far as the second Coca-Cola Youth Test is concerned, Jennings said he is looking for more patience from the batsmen and a better grip of what playing four day cricket means from the whole team. “I will be happy if the players go out and put into practice the information we have been giving them,” he said.
“It’s going to be very hot in Paarl, by all accounts. It will be interesting to see how the English players react if we put them under sustained pressure,” concluded Jennings.
Coca-Cola South Africa Marketing Assets Manager, Craig van Niekerk said of the brand’s involvement in the Coca-Cola Youth Series: “The inclusion of an International component into our Under 19 sponsorship portfolio completes the development cycle. Players start competing in our Coca-Cola T20 Schools tournament, which helps us reach a broader youth base and creates a platform to promote living active and healthy lifestyles. The players then progress to the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket week and now the top 2012 achievers are Show casing their talents before the rest of South Africa and the World, which is expressed in our campaign around cricket development, ‘Show Your Class’.”