17 Nov SA EMERGING AND LIONS’ JENNA EVANS: FROM FAMILY BACKYARD CRICKET TO FUTURE STAR
JOHANNESBURG: In the realm of cricket, tales of passion, perseverance, and undeniable talent often unfold. One such narrative that captivates the cricketing world is that of Jenna Evans, the rising talent who has transitioned from garden cricket to making waves in the youth and senior cricket with the SA U19 Women and the DP World Lions.
Following impressive performances domestically and at the CSA National Academy this year, Evans was named in the SA Emerging 15-player squad that will take on Zimbabwe in a six-match T20 series between 19 – 27 November in Harare.
With a love of the game that started in her backyard, Evans’ journey is marked by a great drive to succeed, family support and an ever-evolving playing style.
“When I started playing cricket, my brother was my motivation. We were competitive, and I always wanted to be better than him,” says the 19-year-old, reflecting on her early cricketing days. The backyard matches fueled her passion, and the competitiveness with her brother drove her to pursue the sport seriously as she took up cricket at school with added confidence.
With her father’s love for the game serving as an additional influence, Evans’ journey from a garden cricket enthusiast to a young school and provincial star before becoming a professional cricketer is a testament to her dedication and the help she received from her family along the way.
The Edenvale-born youngster, who hails from a family of four, emphasizes the perfect balance of support from her parents and brother. “They’ve been the perfect amount of supportive. They come and watch a few matches, and those mean even more to me,” she reveals, appreciating the genuine interest her family takes in her games, whether watching in person or following on Pitch Vision.
When asked to describe her playing style for those who are yet to see her in action, Evans acknowledges her recent transformation under the guidance of SA U19 and CSA Women’s National Academy head coach Dinesha Devnarain.
“I only recently started bowling spin at the beginning of the year at the World Cup. When I worked with Coach Dinesha, she converted me from a pace bowler to a spin bowler, because I wasn’t as confident with my pace anymore. I’d say it’s come quite a long way since then, and I’ve got enough confidence to bowl in provincial matches. It can still get better, but it’s really good at the moment,” she noted.
For influencing the all-rounder’s batting style and pushing her to play unorthodox shots, the Steyn City School alumna credits South African cricketing great AB De Villiers as an inspiration.
Having progressed through the ranks at Central Gauteng Lions and the national youth development pipeline, Evans was selected as part of the SA U19 side that featured in the first-ever ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup in January 2023 in South Africa.
“Being part of the U19 World Cup was phenomenal. There are so many words to describe it. It was such an experience, my first and last chance to play for the SA U19s (at a World Cup) and I’m really glad that I was able to play.
Evans finished the tournament with an average of 30.50, striking the ball at 108.92 during her three innings with the bat as South Africa bowed out in the Super Six round on net run rate after losing just one match throughout the tournament.
Looking ahead, Evans has clear ambitions for her career, both with the Lions and the Proteas.
“For the Lions, I want to cement a spot as a proper all-rounder, making a difference with bat and ball. And for the Proteas, I just want to make the Proteas team. When I get there, I don’t want to be in a shell. I want to play as freely as I know and be myself from the start instead of being in a shell. I feel like that is what happens when you go to different places and different teams. You kind of get closed off, but when I get there, my goal is to be open and play from the start. Show people who I am from the start.,” she asserts.
In a recent standout performance, the right-handed batter notched her maiden century for the Lions, turning the match around from a challenging position with a magnificent 97-ball 104 against the Fidelity Titans.
“It was so surreal. When I hit 100, I was like, what? No ways. No way did I just get that. I think I went into bat, and it was like 60 for 4 or something. We needed 200 more runs to win. It was quite a big score, so I didn’t even want to look at it. I said to my partner, we’re just running. We just get the singles, and it will slowly tick down. The boundaries will come, the bad balls will come, and we’ll just carry on as it is. As we kept going, we looked at the scoreboard, and we were like, wow, it’s runs for balls, so we’re fine. We kept going and going, and then eventually we were hitting 4s.
“It was brilliant. I can’t wait to experience that again,” she says, expressing her joy and determination to contribute more to her team’s success.
As Evans continues her journey in the world of cricket, her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring cricketers and a testament to the power of passion, family support, and relentless determination. Watch out for this future cricketing star as she continues to make strides in the sport she loves.
Audio featuring SA Emerging and DP World Lions all-rounder, Jenna Evans may be downloaded here.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Proteas Women Media Specialist
Cell.: (+27) 076 503 9655
Issued by: Cricket South Africa – Corporate Communications
ABOUT CRICKET SOUTH AFRICA
Cricket South Africa (CSA), an affiliate of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC), is the national governing body for the sport of cricket in South Africa and administers all aspects of South African cricket, men, and women, both in the professional and amateur sphere.