A RESOUNDING win over India in a warm-up game to the U19 World Cup was a key factor in South Africa’s superb triumph in the junior cricket tournament in Dubai at the weekend.
This was the view of top-order batsman Kirwin Christoffels, of NMMU, who arrived in Port Elizabeth last night with EP colleague and all-rounder Bradley Bopp following Saturday’s victory in the final over Pakistan.
The young SA cricketers had to endure a hiccup in their return flight from Dubai when the plane was forced to return after about 90 minutes with a mechanical problem. That delayed their visit to Cape Town where they were honoured at the third test between SA and Australia yesterday. It was a tired but exuberant pair who arrived in PE at 8pm last night.
Talking about their approach, Christoffels, who played in four of the six matches, said: “Before we went we had this thing of ‘one green dot at a time’, which meant just taking it one ball at a time.
“But I think our real confidence-booster was a warm-up game against India when we took them apart, and they were the favourites to win the World Cup.”
Neither Christoffels – who hit two fifties – nor Bopp played in the final, but they said they understood the reasons, confirming the strong bond the squad created.
Coach Ray Jennings described working with the team as a “breath of fresh air”.
“They worked hard, took advice from senior people and moved the process forward. We had the best 12th, 13th, 14th men. They analysed for hours. When we went to watch a game against teams we were going to play against, everybody took notes all day,” he said.
Bopp said he would have liked to have played more than two games but had learnt a great deal from the experience.
“Unfortunately I did not have enough international experience, I understand that … Sibonelo Makhanya and I did most of the bowling in the nets and worked harder than most, and that’s how we bonded so well.”