“We’ve had an up and down tournament – won two, lost one – but go into the quarter-final very confident,”
A rising star at the crease, Jonathan Bird has shown glimpses of what he can produce and thinks the South Africa Under-19s have begun to click with the bat ahead of their ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup Super League quarter-final against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom tomorrow.
The imposing figure of the left-handed batsman from Cape Town entered the tournament with a reputation at Under-19 level and is beginning to display his talents.
Bird and the Junior Proteas have recovered from a disappointing start to the tournament against Afghanistan and impressed in the subsequent group stage matches against Canada and the UAE to finish second in Group D.
The 18-year-old believes the upturn in form, particularly with the bat, has given the side an impetus going into the next game.
“We’ve had an up and down tournament – won two, lost one – but go into the quarter-final very confident,” he said.
“We’ve put three hundred on the board in our last two games, so we are looking to play on a flat wicket again and put three hundred on the board once more,” Bird added.
The Western Province youngster has only managed a single half-century in the tournament so far but has played a crucial role in laying platforms that have propelled South Africa to totals of 349/8 and 299/8.
Bird contributed an exciting 54 off 49 balls (7x4s, 2x6s) against Canada followed by a solid 43 runs in a 63-run partnership with vice-captain, Khanya Cotani versus the UAE. Those steady foundations helped the likes of captain, Bryce Parsons, Luke Beaufort and Tyrese Karelse score runs during the middle periods.
“I think I’m getting better in each game; I’m timing the ball a bit better,” Bird commented.
“In the opening game, I got a good nut. It came through the gate and bowled me. In the Canada game, I found my timing, got a 50 and against the UAE, unfortunately I got out in the 40s, but I am feeling good, feeling confident.
“During the tournament, we were struggling a bit with our middle-order, but they have come right, now and have been batting extremely well, getting a 150-run partnership in the UAE game.
“They are working the ball around well, batting over five an over. I know they are going to continue that form into the Bangladesh game,” the opening batsman concluded.
The SA Under-19s will face Bangladesh at the JB Marks Oval from 10am tomorrow for a place in the semi-finals, with free entry for spectators at the stadium. The match will also be broadcast live on SuperSport 2.
Quarter-finals (10am starts)
West Indies vs New Zealand (Benoni);
South Africa vs Bangladesh (Potch)
Afghanistan vs Pakistan (Benoni)
Cricket South Africa