Seven players you've never heard of who have caught the eye in T20 Knock Out
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Johannesburg – The CSA Provincial T20 Knock Out competition is in full swing and boys have been separated from the men.
After weeks of non-stop action, the eight quarter-finalists are set to battle it out next week.
IOL Sport’s Stuart Hess takes a look at seven players you’d never heard of, who impressed during the Pool section of the competition.
Jean du Plessis (South Western Districts)
Made his first class debut as an 18 year old in 2016, and has kept plugging away for SWD over the years. He looks a neat and compact player, with some lovely shotmaking, especially through the off-side. In the short term it will be interesting to see how he adapts against the Titans in that quarter-final, now that there’s footage of him. Over the long term, the competition should provide a platform for a big season in Division 2.
Herschell America (SWD)
The star of the Pool stages? The 27 year old gained some fame for his rhythmic celebrations – including a shout out from Tabraiz Shamsi on twitter – but he is a very skilful bowler as his figures in Pool A match attest. America, claimed 7 wickets at an average of 10.57, and an economy rate of 6.16. He was able to meet the demands of bowling inside the power play, and obtained what little seam or swing there was in Kimberley, while also delivering accurate yorkers at the ‘death.’
Mncedisi Malika (Border)
A stylish left-hand batsmen, he opened in the innings in Pool C, producing a couple of lovely innings; one in support of a dominant Marco Marais against Limpopo and the other where he had to hold the innings together against the Warriors before Jerry Nqolo and Clayton Bosch let rip. Aged 24, he’s not a rookie, but his runs will be important for the Iinyathi across different formats this season.
Evan Jones (Northern Cape)
Tall, hits the ball miles and bowls at speeds touching 140km/h. Jones is 25 years old but has played just 21 senior provincial matches in the last two years. He scored 94 runs in Pool A, including 50 against Western Province and also picked up four wickets. He won’t be on Northern Cape’s books for long if he can build on the start he’s made to the season. A bright future awaits - if he takes the game seriously enough.
Gideon Peters (Border)
Anyone who bowls 140km/h is going to attract attention and his progress this summer will be very closely monitored by the bigger unions. His action isn’t particularly smooth, but he is quick, has a nasty bouncer and mixes it all up with some smart changes of pace.
Kwezi Gumede (Easterns)
Slim and not very tall, Gumede’s stature belies his talents with the ball. A left-arm seamer, the 22 year old walked away from the Pool C fixtures in Bloemfontein with six wickets. Bowled some lovely overs, got the ball swinging and has good control of length - notwithstanding that over against Senuran Muthusamy in the last Pool match against North West when he conceded 17 runs. Gumede gives Easterns good variety, but the physical challenge will be the big test for him this season.
Kurtlyn Mannikam (KZN Inland)
Given the proliferation of slow left-arm orthodox bowlers in the country, seeing an ‘offie’ is almost novel. Mannikam, who was mentored by Jacques Kallis during his school career at Maritzburg College, played just one match for the Tuskers, but in those three overs, he produced lovely drift, bowled with good pace and picked up two wickets. South Africa needs more off-spinners and Mannikam’s in a small group right now. He should feel encouraged to push on this summer.