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Player Profile – Lhuan-dre Pretorius (St Stithians College)

By Willem Louw , in Cricket | News , at 2023-11-24 Tags: , , ,

Lhuan-dre Pretorius, St Stithians | Photographer: Morgan Piek

Still navigating his penultimate year at the prestigious St Stithians College in Sandton, Lhuan-dre Pretorius has already made his mark on the cricket scene as part of the SA u19 squad that toured Bangladesh in preparation for next year’s ICC u19 Cricket World Cup. He also raised some eyebrows when he was selected by the Paarl Royals in the SA 20 auction at the end of September.

“Sitting at the HPC (Tuks), watching the auction with Juan James, Liyema Waqu and Richard Seletswane, the night before our SA Emerging game against Northern Cape, we all watched the auction in one room, but I was never too focused on the SA20. My main focus was to make the World Cup squad,” he said about the day he received a career-shaping contract.

“I remember Richard Das Neves saying ‘R77 Lhuan-Dre Pretorius’. Everyone in the room just jumped on me from joy, and it was just amazing to see how happy they were for me.”

Born in Klerksdorp and raised in the North West, he said both he and his younger brother, Vihan, showed early signs of talent in cricket and rugby. They were fortunate to have a cricket net in their backyard, and their afternoons soon began to revolve around the game. “We used to get home and not even bother about doing our homework. We would go straight to the cricket net and play, and since then I’ve never looked back,” he recalled.

His journey took a decisive turn in grade 9, when Lhuan-dre achieved a personal milestone by earning a call-up to the St Stithians 1st XI. “Making my first team debut in grade 9 was really special and a big personal achievement,” he shared. He made it a debut to remember, too, scoring a century against St David’s.

Reflecting on his top school matches, he highlighted a double-hundred against rivals KES and a crucial century against Hilton College as defining moments.

His dominance with the bat has enabled him to add his name to the Saints’ record books, and even though a full season still lies in front of him, he has already scored the most centuries in St Stithians’ distinguished cricket history.

With an impressive 16 to his name, at an average of 67, and 4 462 runs from 82 matches, he has already achieved more than most, but, ever the competitor, Pretorius says he has his eyes set on reaching 6 000 runs and 20 centuries before the end of next year.

Reflecting on playing for the SA u19s this year in Bangladesh, he proudly stated: “Representing your country at any level is a massive honour and privilege.”

His journey, however, has not been a walk in the park. Lhuan-dre emphasized: “It was never easy, and from the start, I knew that it was going to be tough with all the talented young cricketers this country has.

“I told myself every day that I have to do extra to get to the top. I hit cricket balls every single day for two hours, five days a week, playing matches on the weekend.

“Although the series did not go our way [Bangladesh won 3-2], I feel like we, as a squad, learned a lot and grew over [the course of] that tour. It was amazing to see my game develop; I felt like a new cricketer after the Bangladesh tour.”

His alma mater boasts an impressive four players in the provisional squad for next year’s u19 World Cup, with Kwena MaphakaRichard Seletswane and Esosa Aihevba alongside him in the South African line-up. After a recent change of venue, the Saints’ foursome is hoping to live out their dreams on home soil in 2024.

Commenting on the late change, from Sri Lanka to South Africa, he said he welcomes the news. “Although we’ve been preparing to go to the sub-continent for over a year, it won’t affect us because we play in these conditions every single day. It suits our game plan perfectly and, personally, I believe the support and home-ground advantage will give us the upper hand.”

Lhuan-dre, in action

The camaraderie within the team is of vital importance, Pretorius stated. He said he gets to feed off his teammates at school, and as they have grown into more senior roles in their various teams, they all enjoy helping out the younger players coming into the squads.

He also credits the coaches at the national side for being approachable and supportive. “Our SA under-19 coaching staff are very open and they have created a very healthy environment, which allows us to talk to them at any time.”

Acknowledging the importance of a strong support system, Lhuan-dre expressed gratitude, saying: “My Dad, Abe, is always there to help me, and he supports me in every decision I take, and I am really grateful for that.

“My mom, Alinda, unfortunately, does not know a lot about cricket but she always does what she can,” he laughed.

Off the field, he also finds a round of golf relaxing. “I play in my free time just to get my mind off cricket. I would like to say that I am pretty decent.”

Asked about his role model, he remembers wanting to play like Quinton de Kock from the first time that he saw him in action. ” I remember he still used the GM Purest [cricket bat]. I asked my dad for one of those and since then I have used GM.”

De Kock is a left-handed opening batsman and a ‘keeper, just like Pretorius, who commented: “I see a bit of myself in him and I hope that I can do what he has done in the future.”

With De Kock recently retiring from the ODI format after South Africa’s heroic Cricket World Cup campaign in India, Proteas’ fans will be happy to know that his potential successor has been preparing studiously for quite some time.

While he is keeping his options open as he heads into his final year of school, one thing is certain: if Pretorius can keep up his work-rate and dedication for another season, he is odds-on to continue breaking records and terrorizing bowlers.

A young prospect with a promising future, fuelled by passion, talent, and the unwavering support of those around him, Lhuan-dre Pretorius continues to grow both on and off the field, and the cricketing world eagerly awaits the next chapter in his journey.

Willem Louw