South Africa under-19s’ current most experienced player, Gerald Coetzee, has declared himself ready for selection ahead of his team’s Youth One-Day International (ODI) Quadrangular series final against India under-19s on Thursday in Durban.
Despite losing to their Zimbabwean counterparts by 31 runs, the junior Proteas advanced to the tournament’s main match at the Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Stadium thanks to a better net run rate than their African neighbours.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe under-19s will once again come up against New Zealand at the Chatsworth Oval, whom they dramatically lost to by two runs in their opening match.
Coetzee suffered a hamstring injury while appearing in the second edition of the Mzansi Super League for the Jozi Stars in mid-November, which has kept him out of action for almost two months.
The all-rounder has now confirmed that he is finally back to match fitness and is available for selection, something that excites the 19-year-old.
“I am feeling great. I am in a good space and I can’t wait to get on the field,” he stated at the team’s training session at Kingsmead. “I feel like I have been ready for two weeks, but there are formalities that have to be followed, with loads etc.
“I am not saying, if I play tomorrow, I will run up and play the perfect game, but I won’t be on the back foot. I am ready and whatever the opposition throws at me, I would do my very best to throw it back…harder,” Coetzee added.
The right-arm fast bowler currently sits ninth on the all-time SA U19s wicket-taker’s list with 23 scalps, behind the likes of former SA U19s captain and Standard Bank Proteas bowler, Wayne Parnell and current Proteas, Kagiso Rabada and Wiaan Mulder.
The St Andrews, Bloemfontein, old boy was in impressive form before his injury, taking 17 wickets during the first half of the Four-Day Franchise Series for the VKB Knights, which helped earn him the call up to the Stars outfit for MSL 2.0.
The lay-off has been frustrating for Coetzee, who has had to sit on the sidelines, watching his SA U19s teammates getting ready for the ICC under-19 Cricket World Cup to be hosted in South Africa.
“It felt like being a dog tied to a tree and you are barking at everything walking past and you can’t do much,” Coetzee continued. “I would say yesterday afternoon (against Zimbabwe) was the toughest, where we were in a situation where our Nos. 7, 8 and 9 batsmen had to win the game, which is where I would bat.
Ahead of the series final, Coetzee believes the SA U19s are not too far from where they want to be, stating that the final is still up for grabs, regardless of the form of the Indian side.
He also says that, although the team would welcome a winning run before what will be a second junior World Cup appearance for Coetzee – taking place from 17 January to 09 February – the result against India will not determine their success at the World Cup.
“A final is always big, it doesn’t matter whom you play. There’s already the equality between the two teams because it is a final and both teams will have nerves and it’s just about the team that pitches up and plays the best cricket on the day,” he mentioned.
“We would like to have momentum going into the World Cup. If we win or lose, it doesn’t determine how our World Cup is going to be.
“I feel the team is in a good space, we are not peaking too soon. We are on the verge of playing really good cricket and tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to play really good cricket,” Coetzee concluded.
The Quadrangular final and the third and fourth place playoff will get underway from 09h30 (local time) with live updates available on Cricket South Africa’s official Twitter page https://twitter.com/OfficialCSA and Facebook page https://web.facebook.com/CricketSouthAfrica.
The matches will also be available for live streaming on www.pitchvision.com.
SA under-19 Youth ODI Quadrangular v India, NZ & Zim Squad:
Bryce Parsons (Central Gauteng, capt), Khanya Cotani (North West, vice-capt), Luke Beaufort (Eastern Province), Jonathan Bird (Western Province), Merrick Brett (Northerns), Achille Cloete (Boland), Gerald Coetzee (Free State), Tyrese Karelse (South Western Districts), Mondli Khumalo (KwaZulu-Natal), Jack Lees (Central Gauteng), Andrew Louw (Northern Cape), Levert Manje (Central Gauteng), Odirile Modimokoane (North West), Pheko Moletsane (Free State), Tiaan van Vuuren (Eastern Province).
SA under-19 Youth ODI Quadrangular v India, New Zealand & Zimbabwe Fixtures:
Thu 09: 7th Youth ODI (Bronze – Zimbabwe U19s vs New Zealand (Chatsworth Cricket Oval)
Thu 09: 8th Youth ODI (Final) – India U19s vs South Africa U19s (Hollywoodbets Kingsmead Cricket Ground)