Young cricketers enjoy indoor action

AIMING HIGH: Eastern Province’s Tristan Fleetwood plays a shot with North West wicketkeeper Jadrik Lamprecht alert behind him in their Junior SA National Indoor Cricket tournament U12 match yesterday

A buzz of excitement and competitiveness is apparent at the Junior South African National Indoor Cricket tournament as the six-day event continues at the Indoor Cricket Centre in Hunter’s Retreat.

It started on Sunday and will continue until Saturday.

About 500 children from all nine provinces competed against each other at the crease in the U10 to U18 categories.

The tournament has diverted from its norm, due to gaps in age groups in some of the categories.

“We have had categories of U11, U13, U15 and U18 but noticed a gap in U13, so we decided to split the categories to start with U10,” South African Junior Indoor Cricket president and tournament manager Elrich van de Venter said.

“In this way, we can feed young and vibrant cricketers from grassroots level into the clubs.

“Indoor cricket is certainly a feeding ground for the juniors to get into the higher level of cricket.

“A lot of the young cricketers here have been inspired by elite cricketers who started off with the indoor set-up.”

Eastern Province Elephants, who have won three of their five matches in the U12 category, have held their own against the other teams.

“A lot of our players have raised their hands as all-rounders. The have shown quality cricket against their counterparts,” EP Elephants coach Robert James said.

Popularity in the sport has grown immensely.

“The reaction time has to be much faster for this format of cricket because of the close fielding,” Van de Venter said.

“The bowling and batting needs to be more accurate. The skill level improves in leaps and bounds when cricketers enter the outdoor field.”

The junior tournament concludes with the selection of a national side in each category.

A junior women’s side will be selected for the first time this year.

The sides will go on an England tour, where they will take on European junior teams.

Junior world cup trials will follow in October for all the outstanding indoor cricketers.

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