Warriors fast bowler Aya Gqamane is relishing his newfound role as his captain’s goto-man in the heat of battle.
At only 1.6m tall, Gqamane is one of the shortest professional fast bowlers around, but what he lacks in height he certainly makes up for in heart.
Gqamane would run through a brick wall for captain Jon-Jon Smuts and it is that determination that has seen him become the leading wicket-taker for the Warriors in the Momentum One-Day Cup competition.
The bustling seamer has picked up nine scalps at an average of 23.11 a wicket and, more importantly, he has had the knack of removing batsmen at crucial periods.
“Aya has been unbelievable in this campaign,” Smuts said after training yesterday.
“He has been our leading seamer by a long way. He’s struck, he’s contained. He’s pretty done everything we’ve asked for. “He just works so hard.” Gqamane, 27, burst onto the first-class stage in December, 2012, returning match figures of 11 for 70 on his Sunfoil Series debut against the Lions.
He took 4/46 and 7/24 as the Lions were dismissed for 59 in their second innings – and the Warriors won by 10 wickets.
But injuries interrupted him after a promising start.
“He hit the scene with a bang, then had injuries. Being a youngster getting dropped at times, it’s not always easy to come back,” the skipper said.
“It’s a tribute to his work ethic, the way he has turned his game around.
“He has a lot of options. He’s not just a normal length ball and a bumper anymore.
“He’s got a good yorker, he has a few slower balls.”
Smuts now has the confidence to toss Gqamane the ball in pressure situations knowing he has the ability to deliver under pressure. “It makes my life very easy. I can just throw him the ball whenever I want to and he always seems to do it at the moment.
“He’s really given us another string in our bow, especially in the middle overs,” Smuts said.
“In the past, we’ve always had a lot of spin in the middle and I think some of the guys have got used to that.
“But now we have Aya bowling extremely well and getting wickets in the middle. It’s taking pressure off our spinners.”
Gqamane, who will be in action next in the Momentum One-Day Cup against the Knights at St George’s Park on Friday, from 2pm, is stoked to be contributing to the team.
“I’m very happy with my performances. I’ve worked really hard during the off-season and just before this campaign,” Gqamane said yesterday.
“I’ve simplified my plans and been executing them properly.”
These days, limited overs pitches tend to favour the batsmen, which leaves little room for seamers to err.
“If you are bowling to your plans and are getting hit off your plans there’s not much you can do as a bowler, especially with the pitches being so slow this season,” he said.
“But you have to be strong enough to come back.”
Gqamane hails from Mdingi in the Border region, the same small village that produced Makhaya Ntini.
- Scholars and students (with student card) will be able to watch tomorrow’s match at no cost by collecting a free pass at the St George’s ticket office between 8.30am and 4pm today and at the game.