By FOCUS REPORTER
CRICKET South Africa (CSA) has identified six scouts whose sole purpose is to manage the CSA Acceleration Programme, and all will be in Cape Town for the under-19 Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week.
The six, along with national under-19 coach, Ray Jennings, are here to keep a watchful eye on the players ahead of announcing the Franchise under-19 teams that will be playing in the National Cubs week in Stellenbosch in January.
Cricket South Africa’s manager of youth development, Niels Momberg explains that CSA has implemented a coaching, mentoring and monitoring system, based on the six franchises, aimed at identifying special cricketing talent early on, and then ensuring that those players are not allowed to slip through the cracks and that their development is closely watched.
“The players receive good coaching and advice while they are at school,” Momberg says, “but there is a risk that they will go off the rails once they leave school and are no longer subjected to that discipline. We see it as our responsibility to ensure this does not happen.”
SA Under-19 coach Ray Jennings has established a set of standards in fitness, skills and mental preparation and it is the responsibility of the six scouts to see to it that the players identified in their area stick to these. For those who do, there are regular camps, run by Jennings, at which ongoing evaluations are done.
“We start the process in the under-17 year,” Momberg says, “and once the players are on our database we try to make sure that they continue to develop until they come through to this Coca-Cola under-19 week where they will be up for National Selection for the first time.”
Momberg stresses, however, that the South Africa Schools and Colts teams that will be announced at the end of the week are selected purely based on their performances at the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week alone. “A player who plays well enough at the week to be selected, and who is not in our programme, will automatically be invited to join it. At the same time, members of the programme who don’t do well enough at the week to get the nod are not discarded but remain part of the system. The idea is to cast the net as wide as possible and to make sure all the best talented is considered.”
The final SA Under 19 team that will be selected from the National Cubs week and will be the one to play in a triangular series with Zimbabwe and Pakistan in January and February 2012.
“Coca-Cola supports the Acceleration Programme as this ensures that South Africa remains one of the best cricket-playing Nations in the world,” said Craig van Niekerk, Marketing Assets Manager, Coca-Cola South Africa. “Through such programmes we can feel assured that our property makes a difference. No team can compete successfully on the global stage without a strong grass roots programme in place to identify talent to feed into the top structures. Coca-Cola is proud of what has been achieved since we started sponsoring the Under 19’s 33 years ago.”