Malan plays the North West way

PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Janneman Malan of North West gets his 50 during the 2016 Africa T20 Cup Pool A match between Western Province and North West at Pietermaritzburg Oval on September 04, 2016 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 04: Janneman Malan of North West gets his 50 during the 2016 Africa T20 Cup Pool A match between Western Province and North West at Pietermaritzburg Oval on September 04, 2016 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

JANNEMAN MALAN topped the batting averages after the opening weekend of the Africa T20 Cup this past weekend – and then credited the ‘North West Way’ as the big reason behind the Potchefstroom side taking the plaudits in Pietermaritzburg.

The North West Seeff Dragons won all three their matches to top Pool A and ensure themselves a place in the finals weekend at the end of the month.

They were one of the least fancied teams in their group behind the likes of Western Province and KwaZulu-Natal Inland, but toppled both comprehensively, and also saw off a brave challenge from Namibia.

Malan, a 20-year-old right-handed opener, was the shining light amongst many others in his team. His scores of 47, 36 and 70 meant he topped the averages with 51.00 and a strike-rate of 126.44.

Team-mates like Rassie van der Dussen, his fellow opener, Andre Malan, captain Nicky van den Bergh and Marques Ackerman also helped ensure the North West Way was upheld.

“I was very happy about how the week went,” Malan said. “I just backed my strengths and tried to be positive throughout.

“The focus was to play the North West brand of cricket, which was aggressive. I backed my skills and it came off, so I couldn’t have asked for more.

“I think the entire batting unit did well and credit to my partners for making my job so easy. They helped keep the innings together each time and also helped maintain a high run rate most of the time. That allowed me to play my shots all the time.”

Amongst the bowlers, Brady Barends was their top performer with his six wickets leaving him one behind the most successful bowler of the weekend, Namibia’s JJ Smit with seven.

Bjorn Fortuin, the second most economical bowler at 5.08, picked up four wickets, the same number as Johannes Diseko and Aya Myoli.

“In terms of the bowling unit and the fielding, it also backed up the batting,” Malan added. “It was excellent so credit to them.”

Malan’s splendid form did not just come to the fore this past weekend. In fact, he has been in excellent nick through the winter, starring for the University Sport South Africa team as they won the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Emerging Tri-Series.

Both South Africa and Sri Lanka’s Emerging teams featured in the competition.

“I think especially before the season, getting the seven games in like we did gave me a big advantage,” Malan adds. “It allowed me to work my game out in that series and coming here fresh from there was very good for me.”

Now Malan and his team-mates must wait patiently to find out who else makes the final four cut. “It’s a long wait, so we’ll watch the other three weeks with a lot of interest,” he added. “But we’re looking forward to the rest of the competition.

“When the semis come, we’ll be ready.”