When Cricket South Africa announced their national contracts for the 2020/21 season, there were a few notable names missing; Janneman Malan, Zubayr Hamza and Kyle Verreynne.
Janneman and Verreynne showed, with flying colours that international Cricket is not a step too far for them. While Hamza just recently won the Momentum One Day Cup Player of the Season award at the Cobras end of season awards, having scored two centuries and three half-centuries, while taking on the added responsibility of the captaincy.
What was a standout for me from Malan and Verreynne was their ability to not shy away from pressure. Under tough match situations, against a world class bowling attack, they stood up and were counted. Hamza has shown he has skill and maturity in Test Cricket, and given his stats in the Momentum One Day Cup, should be considered for one day selection too. They all need more chances.
It is well known that South Africa are looking to rebuild their national team, both in the Test and One Day format, after their dismal World Cup performance and some high-profile retirements. They can do this by investing time into their young players, especially as the next World Cup is now less than three years away.
It is promising that this trio of players have had a taste of international cricket but they need to be regulars in the team, gaining experience and learning how to deal with real-match situations, so that when they are faced with these situations in a big pressure game, like a World Cup semi-final, they are equipped to handle the big pressure moment.
I think back to the India Women’s performance in the Women’s T20 World Cup earlier this year. and in particular Shafali Verma. Despite her extremely young age, she had a phenomenal tournament, all up until the final, where the pressure got the better of her. She will learn from this experience and it will make her a better player.
It is for this reason that young players in the South African set-up need to be given the chance to grow in the national team. They will make mistakes, but that is how they will grow and learn.
Despite these players not getting national contracts, it is my hope that when Cricket does return, these players are given their chance.
It was encouraging to see Cape Cobras coach, Ashwell Prince selecting such a young squad for the Cobras 2020/21 season. His aim was to select a team for all formats and for the future.
It is important for South Africa to use this time to form a solid core group of players, one that can not only travel to the World Cup in India in February 2023 but importantly, a group of players that can compete.