Proteas legends Herschelle Gibbs and Jonty Rhodes have praised the National Academy Programme saying it is a wonderful opportunity for the 18 players involved to enhance themselves as cricketers.
The pair, along with the likes of Robin Peterson, Dane Piedt, Kruger Van Wyk, and Vincent Barnes, have spent the last three days at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) High Performance Centre in Pretoria.
They were invited to a three-day specialist coaching programme, where they not only helped coach the players, but also shared some of the experiences gained over a number of years playing at the highest level.
“These experiences for players are vital,” said Gibbs, who played in over 350 matches for South Africa across all formats. “I’m sure Jonty and myself, when we started out 25-odd years ago, had we had mentors and coaches with international experience, I’m sure it would have benefitted us in a big way before we played for the Proteas.”
The players began the three-month Academy course at the CSA Centre of Excellence at the end of May and they are now in the final phases, preparing themselves to play for the SA Emerging Squad tour of Zimbabwe next month.
They are set to participate in a two four-day matches and three List A unofficial ODIs.
“The feedback has been good and they’ve asked a lot of questions, which is nice to see,” Gibbs, one of the finest batsman to play for the Proteas, added. “So hopefully these Academy lads will find these interactions beneficial.”
Rhodes has also thoroughly enjoyed the exercise over the past few days. “I know it’s difficult to make a difference on someone’s technique and what they are doing in two days, so it’s been more about sharing of our experiences with these players and hopefully that will help them one day,” he explained. “It’s more about the attitude shift and what is required to progress. I think they all realise that it requires hard work and there is no short cut.
“So by getting us past players here, I mean looking back to when I first started in 1992, these guys weren’t even around back then. It’s been great fun.”
He was also impressed by the thirst for knowledge by the players in the academy. Rhodes, who is widely regarded as one of the best fielders ever and has played over 300 times for South Africa, praised the enthusiasm of the youngsters.
“I was warned by the coaches here that these are guys that are hungry to learn and that has been reflected in the questions they ask,” he adds. “They’ve asked a lot of good questions, which has been the key here.
“For me as a coach, I want to see people that want to learn and that’s been very important. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
The women’s programme, made up of 14 players, will be held in September and October.
SA National Academy Men’s Squad: Karabo Mogotsi (Gauteng), Wihan Lubbe (North West), Yaseen Vallie (Gauteng), Tony de Zorzi (Northerns), Janneman Malan (North West), Senuran Muthusamy (KZN), Isaac Digale (North West), Michael Cohen (WP), Lwandiswa Zuma (Free State), Tladi Bokako (EP), Okuhle Cele (KZN), Migael Pretorius (Northerns), Ndumiso Mvelase (Gauteng), Kyle Simmonds (Boland), Thomas Kaber (Northerns), Kyle Verrynne (WP), Matthew Christensen (EP), Wiaan Mulder (Gauteng)
Management team: Malibongwe Maketa (Head Coach), Shane Burger (Assistant Coach), Nandile Tyali (Fitness Trainer), Michael Gwilliams(Physio), Hendrikus Coertzen(Video Analyst)