SuperSport Schools Plus

Player Profile – Kwena Maphaka (St Stithians College)

By Willem Louw , in Cricket | News , at 2023-10-19 Tags: , ,

Kwena Maphaka – Photo: Gallo Images (Darren Stewart)

Left-arm seamer Kwena Maphaka burst onto the junior cricket scene last year when he stepped into the limelight at the u19 Cricket World Cup. His coaches and teammates will, however, tell you that his talent has long been evident, and his success comes as no surprise to those who have seen him grow as a player over the years.

After being called up to the u19 squad in grade 10, he has since become a key cog in the leadership group of the team. He has also enjoyed success in the professional environment as part of the SA A squad, the SA Emerging team, and now, the Paarl Royals, who have signed the exciting young talent from St Stithians for next season’s SA 20 competition.

“Next year is going to be challenging, but it’s going to be extremely fun”, Kwena said about the forthcoming season. “It’s a privilege and an honour to be a part of groups like the SA Emerging and Paarl Royal squads.

“Once you step into a professional environment you can feel the difference. The mindset is different, the coaches are different, and the playing level is higher. It definitely teaches you how to deal with things like pressure.”

But pressure does not seem to bother Kwena much. Having proved himself on some big stages already, he said he relishes the challenge.

“Personally, I felt that when I got into that high-pressure environment, I actually learned to enjoy the pressure quite a bit.”

One such example came at the u19 World Cup, where he not only witnessed Dewald Brevis’s masterful batting, but also had the opportunity to prove his mettle against Sri Lanka. He recalled: “It just felt like an opportunity to show the world what I’ve got, and being able to make the most of it was a really special feeling.”

In that match, despite South Africa going down, the young talent from St Stithians made a lasting impression. He’s one of the few left-arm quicks in the country able to sustain a constant, challenging probing attack.

Kwena’s cricketing talent was recognised even before he reached primary school. He recalled: “We had a mini-cricket tournament, and I remember the coaches telling my parents that they would need to buy me some cricket equipment because I would be playing for the A team the next year, alongside the third graders.”

His early development was shaped by his brother, Tetelo, who played a significant role in igniting his passion for cricket. “I started playing cricket as soon as I could walk,” Kwena said, remembering the countless hours he spent playing garden cricket, with a mini-bat and a tennis ball, with his older brother.

Older by six years, and a talented sportsman in his own right, Tetelo plies his trade at the Imperial Lions as an all-rounder. He’s also a left-arm bowler, but he doesn’t possess the pace of his younger sibling.

Kwena gives credit to his family for being a dependable support system along each step of his cricket journey. “I have a very strong support system in my parents and my brother, and a few coaches who I remain close to, who I have trusted with my cricket career completely along the way.”

Born and bred in Johannesburg, he also calls Limpopo home, as both his parents hail from the region. He joined St Stithians in grade eight and found himself in the first team by the end of grade nine.

Kwena acknowledges the profound impact the school and its cricket department have had on him. “I think they have shaped me in a number of ways to become a better person. There’s a lot that you learn on the cricket field, and a lot that you learn in a classroom that’s not necessarily even school-related.”

With another full season at St Stithians awaiting him next year, in addition to national and club commitments, Kwena remains focused on the present. “Our focus for the season is definitely on winning the Johnny Waite [T20 Knockout Tournament], and my personal goal for the team would be to go unbeaten for the rest of the season.”

As for the future, he is keeping his options open. “I’m not currently committed to anywhere after matric, but there are a few conversations going on. I think I would probably like to stay in Joburg, but my main focus right now is school and passing matric.”

Kwena isn’t just a cricket enthusiast; he’s a versatile athlete. He’s added provincial colours in tennis and hockey, to go along with his cricketing achievements.

He enjoys tennis, hockey and golf as a means to unwind when he’s not dealing with the demands of cricket. He’s also passionate about music and reading. “A coffee in one hand, a book in the other, it’s amazing,” he said.

His cricketing hero, he revealed, is the great South African fast bowler, Dale Steyn. He said he admires Steyn’s bowling style, and he has sought to incorporate some of Steyn’s characteristics into his own game. He fondly recalls watching Steyn charging in to bowl.

“Seeing the things he could do with the ball, seeing his aggression, watching the fiery way he played the game, was really exciting as a youngster. There are definitely a few characteristics of his that I have tried to develop in my own game,” Kwena concluded.

Remember to submit your nominations for SuperSport Schools’ “The Class of ’23”. We invite you to be a part of this journey by nominating unforgettable moments, outstanding athletes, and inspiring coaches.

Your participation will help us recognise and showcase the true stars and stories of 2023. Submit your nominations on the following link – https://bit.ly/SSClassof2023.

Willem Louw
error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.