With the ICC u19 Cricket World Cup around the corner, South Africa’s players are busy with their final preparations before taking on the West Indies in their opener on Friday in Potchefstroom. There are, also, a number of other players with close ties to the host nation in action at this year’s tournament.
Alexander Volschenk, from Hoërskool Waterkloof, captains the Namibian u19 group. South Africa’s western neighbours face a challenging draw in Group C, where they will take on Australia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.
Volschenk will be pivotal to their campaign, having shown his game-changing abilities for the Pretoria powerhouse throughout 2023. The Klofies won their third consecutive Fain Noordvaal title last year and captured the Westvaal North-South T20 for a second year in succession. The big right-hander, who attended St John’s College in Windhoek before making the move to Waterkloof, played a key role in his team’s successes.
Jan Frylinck, who is part of the Namibian senior national team that qualified for the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA, followed a similar path, receiving his schooling on the farm at Boland Landbou before making the switch to Namibia. Frylinck has also represented Boland and South Africa at u19 level.
Another Waterkloof old boy at the event this year is Ewald Schreuder, who will turn out for New Zealand. Schreuder, who bats right-handed but bowls left-arm medium pace, will have an important role to play in the Kiwis’ campaign.
Tristan Luus, a standout performer in 2023, became the third Waterkloof cricketer to crack the nod for the prestigious event after receiving a late call-up to the South African u19 squad following the withdrawal of Esosa Aihevba due to an injury.
St Stithians have bragging rights with four players in the SA u19 squad (now minus Aihevba), but St Charles College from Pietermaritzburg can take pride in their cricket programme also producing four representatives at this year’s tournament. Brendon Sunguro, Newman Nyamhuri and Panashe Taruvinga have been selected to represent Zimbabwe, who will be taking on the Namibians in their final group-stage fixture, while Ntando Zuma is in the SA u19 squad.
The Irish u19 team, captained by Philippus le Roux, from London, also features the 17-year-old Jordan Neill from Rondebosch Boys’ High and Kian Hilton from King Edward VII.
Neill plays out of Merrion Cricket Club in Leinster and captained the Rondebosch 1st XI. He represented Western Province at the 2022 Coca-Cola Khaya Majola u19 Cricket Week but was not available for selection last year due to his international duties.
Their knowledge of the local playing conditions and pitches could prove vital for an Irish side that lost two of its three warm-up games against Zimbabwe earlier in January. They face some tough opposition in Group A, with India, Bangladesh and the USA also vying to qualify for the knockout stages.
The English vice-captain, Luc Benkenstein, is the son of Dale Benkenstein, who captained the SA Schools team during his time at Michaelhouse and went on to play 23 ODIs for the Proteas in the early 2000s.
Dale Benkenstein was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where his father, Martin, played for the national side. Dale obtained his British passport in 2007, which has enabled his son, Luc, to become the third generation of Benkenstein to represent a different country, albeit only at u19 level for now.
The English outfit will need to regroup after a defeat against Afghanistan in a warm-up match. They are in Group B with the hosts, South Africa, as well as Scotland and the West Indies.
In preparation for the event, Benkenstein travelled to South Africa to train at the Shedders Cricket Academy at Durban High School where he worked with Andrew Shedlock, CEO of the DHS Foundation, and high-performance coach Paddy Steytler.
Shedlock, a former SA international in water polo, previously worked as a full-time trainer for the Dolphins when Graham Ford was in charge of a team that included, among others, Malcolm Marshall, Lance Klusener, Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock, Errol Stewart and opening batsman, Doug Watson.
And that’s where New Zealand has another local connection. Luke Watson is the son of Doug Watson, who has coached the Namibian national team and Scotland, and who is now the head coach at Auckland Cricket. Luke, too, is an opening batsman.
Watson, along with the aforementioned Schreuder, are members of an u19 Black Caps squad that boasts a strong cricketing pedigree. Tom Jones‘ grandfather, Jeremy Coney, is a former New Zealand test captain, while Zac Cumming is the son of Craig Cumming, who played in 11 tests and 13 ODIs.
ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup Groups
Group A: India, Bangladesh, Ireland, USA
Group B: England, South Africa, West Indies, Scotland
Group C: Australia, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Namibia
Group D: Afghanistan, Pakistan, New Zealand, Nepal
All the fixtures (Group Stage)
Friday, 19 January: Ireland vs USA (Bloemfontein); South Africa vs West Indies (Potchefstroom)
Saturday, 20 January: Bangladesh vs India (Bloemfontein); England vs Scotland (Potchefstroom); Afghanistan vs Pakistan (East London)
Sunday, 21 January: Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe (Kimberley); Nepal vs New Zealand (East London)
Monday, 22 January: Bangladesh vs Ireland (Bloemfontein); Australia vs Namibia (Kimberley)
Tuesday, 23 January: South Africa vs England (Potchefstroom); Afghanistan vs New Zealand (East London)
Wednesday, 24 January: Namibia vs Sri Lanka (Kimberley); Scotland vs West Indies (Potchefstroom); Nepal vs Pakistan (East London)
Thursday, 25 January: India vs Ireland (Bloemfontein); Australia vs Zimbabwe (Kimberley)
Friday, 26 January: Bangladesh vs USA (Bloemfontein); England vs West Indies (Potchefstroom); Afghanistan vs Nepal (East London)
Saturday, 27 January: Namibia vs Zimbabwe (Kimberley); South Africa vs Scotland (Potchefstroom); New Zealand vs Pakistan (East London)
Sunday, 28 January: India vs USA (Bloemfontein); Australia vs Sri Lanka (Kimberley)