NATIONAL cricket coach Pierre de Bruyn has expressed satisfaction with the performances and talent on display at national trial matches which were concluded over the weekend.
In the final round of T20 trial matches in preparation for next year's T20 World Cup in India, several players came to the fore with some excellent performances, while the depth and competition for places in the national squad has also been strengthened.
"I designed the invitation games not like warm-up or practise games - they had to be competitive, while I also invited younger players. It was an opportunity to see some of the younger guys in action like Divan La Cock, Alex Volschenk, and Dirkie Theunissen and it excites me to see what talent we have," he said.
"Last weekend we also invited some coastal players like Matthew de Gouveia, Michael van Lingen and Renier Bosman, who is an excellent prospect as a left arm spinner," he said.
"We will now make sure that they are taken up and involved in our High Performance programme so that they can be developed further. The aim is to narrow the gap between our national players and the pathway players," he added.
Amongst the batsmen, Karl Birkenstock stood out with two excellent innings' at number six, of 59 off 35 balls, which included seven fours and two sixes, and 47 off 29 balls (2x4, 4x6)
Other batsmen to impress included Zayn Green (45 runs off 36 balls, and 29 off 27 balls), Divan La Cock (24 not out off 21 balls), Pikky Ya France (27 not out off 18 balls), JP Kotze (28 off 18 balls), Michau du Preez (26 not out off 18 balls), Craig Williams (35 off 42 balls) and Nicol Loftie-Eaton (28 off 26 balls).
Amongst the bowlers, Dewald Nell (two wickets for 13 runs), Zhivago Groenewald (2/16), Renier Bosman (2/10), Bernard Scholtz (2/17 and 2/13), and Nicol Loftie Eaton (2/14) stood out.
De Bruyn highlighted some of the top performances of the weekend.
"Karl Birkenstock stood out in his role and that was pleasing to see. It's also great to see Zhivago Groenewald back - he was under the knife in January and had a rehabilitation period, but now he's back and he has put up his hand up, saying I want to go to India," he said.
"Pikky Ya France really expressed himself over the past three or four weeks in the Franchise T20 competition as well as the national training matches, while Mauritius Ngupita is developing really well as an off-spinner of note," he added.
"Ruben Trumpelmann has led the seam attack well as opening bowler and we have several other good seamers as well. In the opening batting department we also have depth now with the likes of Stephan Baard, Zane Green, Niko Davin who was not available last weekend, and JP Kotze so there is healthy competition now," he said.
De Bruyn said the national T20 trial matches have now been concluded before the 2020/21 club cricket league kicks off next weekend.
"I've told the national squad players to take a break this coming weekend, before the club league starts next weekend. But I've told them it's compulsory for the national players to be involved in club cricket and to attend club training on Tuesdays and Thursdays, to go and assist the young players, to live out our values and to educate them.
"We've also set challenges and targets for club cricket, and I want to see hundreds, like what Nicol Loftie-Eaton recently did when he hit consecutive centuries. Those are the performances that I want to see - we can't just average 30's or 40's anymore, and Nicol has now set the benchmark for what's required," he said.