Club Cricket SA earmarks a player from each of the 12 teams competing in the 2016 National Club Championship, which will be played in Pretoria from 21 to 27 April, for success. Tuesday brought section one’s players to watch – and here’s section two’s likely heroes…
Wihan Lubbe (North West University Cricket Club)
An attacking left-handed batsman and wily off-spinner, the 23-year-old Lubbe is a prodigious prospect for North West University Cricket Club and North West’s first-class team. Sporting a first-class average in excess of 30 – relatively high compared to a lot of his contemporaries of similar age and experience – Lubbe will appreciate honing his skills on pitches other than the Senwes Park surface in Potchefstroom, where he spent a substantial part of January, February and March in the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup, CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge and CSA Provincial T20 Challenge.
Also keep an eye on: Andre Malan
Kyle Verreynne (Cape Town Cricket Club)
A graduate of the same high school that produced former South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis and record-breaking Twenty20 International centurion Richard Levi, Verreynne was the proud recipient of two consecutive Player of the Match awards at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh earlier this year. A vital cog in the Cape Town Cricket Club batting order, the 18-year-old will also keep wicket to a strong bowling attack spearheaded by burgeoning Cape Cobras fast bowler Brendan Young and stalwart spinner Matthew Olsen.
Also keep an eye on: Tommy Jansen
Michael Alexander (Crusaders Cricket Club)
Inspired rather than hindered by the captaincy after succeeding experienced former skipper Rob Clift, Alexander amassed almost 600 runs – including a century and three half-tons – during the 2015-2016 KwaZulu-Natal premier league. The resilient right-hander’s telling performances contributed heavily to Crusaders Cricket Club’s sixth successive KZNCU premier league title – and has the defending National Club Championship title holders well placed to successfully defend the helm in Pretoria this month.
Also keep an eye on: Jason Biddulph
Letlotlo Sesele (Central University of Technology Cricket Club)
A versatile number three and opening batsman, the right-handed Sesele enjoyed regular Sunfoil Series appearances for the Knights this season. While first-class runs for the Bloemfontein-based franchise were not plentiful, mid-March’s second-innings 45 against a testing Cape Cobras attack – lined with the services of Proteas Wayne Parnell, Beuran Hendricks and Dane Piedt – on a taxing Mangaung Oval pitch reiterated the 28-year-old’s potential. A string of sound showings for the Northern Cape in the CSA Provincial T20 Challenge, meanwhile, reaffirmed this.
Also keep an eye on: Malusi Siboto
Gurshwin Rabie (Union Stars Cricket Club)
Nearing 33 years old and very experienced at first-class and List A level, boasting almost 400 wickets – including 20 five-fors – in over 120 matches, former Cape Cobras cricketer and current South Western Districts new-ball bowler Rabie will be the mainstay of the Union Stars Cricket Club attack in Pretoria. The right-arm seamer will cherish the extra bounce and carry offered by the Laudium, Groenkloof and Tuks Oval pitches – a stark contrast to some of the low and slow surfaces experienced in Oudtshoorn.
Also keep an eye on: Sammy Joe Avontuur
Keegan Petersen (University of Stellenbosch Cricket Club)
Last year’s National Club Championship Player of the Tournament through sheer weight of runs, Petersen will go into this edition on the back of a fine stretch of form at first-class and List A level during the past couple of months. While December 2015 and January 2016’s stint with the Cape Cobras proved inconsistent, February and March’s time with Boland yielded three half-tons and a big century. His 124 scored against Free State in early March was a particularly patient affair, orchestrated across 370 minutes at the crease – and almost 250 deliveries faced.
Also keep an eye on: David Bedingham