THEY may not yet differentiate between their favourite cricket player and a cartoon character, but for these toddlers cricket is what keeps them busy outside of school and their favourite cricketers are their fathers – if not themselves.
These youngsters are nurturing their budding cricket skills by getting coaching at the Youth Cricket Academy (YCA), in Walmer, after school and during holidays.
The academy coaches the sport as well as soccer to children aged three to 18 years old.
YCA coaching director Glenn Bester says there is never a dull moment. “When they field, it’s like [having] a cupcake in a playground – they all flock to the ball. You’d swear they’re playing rugby rather than cricket.”
For four-year-old Robin Angles, cricket and rugby are one and the same.
When asked who his favourite cricket player was, he loudly chirped: “My favourite cricket player is me! Oh, and the [rugby team EP] Kings.”
Robin prefers to be out on the pitch fielding because “my dad likes that and I get to stand on the grass”.
The toddlers are busy with one of the academy’s cricket festivals, where the young cricketers take part in mini cricket matches, among other activities.
A very talkative Morgan Johnson, 5, said while he did not like the fact that cricket tires him, he enjoyed batting. “I love batting because fielding is boring. You just stand there and do nothing the whole time.”
Matthew Kendal, 5, also enjoys batting and is privileged enough to share the pitch with his cricket hero almost every day.
“My favourite cricket player is Morgan [Johnson] because he is very good [at cricket] – and he’s naughty,” he said.
Budding fast bowler Logan Grogh, 4, could give Proteas cricketer Lonwabo “Lopsy” Tsotsobe a run for his money.
“I love bowling because I bowl fast and I always bowl them out,” he said, with a laugh.
Daddy’s girl, Emily Fortuin, 4, said she wanted to be just like her dad – her favourite cricket player.
For three-year-old Qhama Mshumpela, cricket is about hitting the ball – and far.
“I [once] hit the ball so hard into the wall [that] it broke,” he said.
Coach Aron Burton had this to say: “They’re very easily distracted, often wandering off to pick flowers or chase butterflies, but they’re a fun bunch – and lots of hard work.”