Akhona Mnyaka is savouring the opportunity to display his talent for the Coca-Cola South Africa under-19s at this year’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. The 18-year old from Mdantsane in East London hopes that the tournament will open further doors at its conclusion in early February.
It seems already being the youngest player to be drafted the Global T20 League is not enough, Mnyaka has even higher aspirations.
“The goal for any sportsman is to reach the highest honours that are out there and for me, that’s to represent my country in the Proteas team,” he said. “Everything else is great, it’s a push in the right direction, but I hope I can do a good enough job here to show selectors and everyone out there that I’m a good player and that I am good enough to earn a call up (to the Proteas) someday soon.”
The 12th edition of the World Cup begins tomorrow, but South Africa will make their first appearance against Kenya in Christchurch on Sunday. Mnyaka believes that the tournament is a good platform for youngsters to put their hands up and be counted among the country’s best players.
“You can see just by how many guys who have gone from an U19 World Cup and made the Proteas team that this is a very big stage that we are going to be playing on,” he continued. “Guys like Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Wayne Parnell made their way into the national team pretty quickly after playing SA U19 in a World Cup. It just goes to show how big this occasion really is. Your life could change for the better in a matter of months if you keep playing hard.”
The young South Africans were found wanting in their warm-up match against India, suffering a 138-run defeat to them earlier this week. Mnyaka does not believe that the team played to its potential that day, but is confident that they have addressed the issues.
“We didn’t play well against India but I think that if we stick to our basics and do what we do best, which is worrying about our own game and not think about the opposition, we will do well in this tournament. I’m not too worried about what happened in that warm-up game because it was exactly that, a warm-up. We know what we need to do and it’s now just a matter of executing the skills we all know that we have.”
South Africa’s match will be streamed on the ICC’s website www.icc-cricket.com, with play starting at 10:30 local time.