Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 1, 2016

World Cup exit not a sign of problems in SA cricket - U-19s coach

Firdose Moonda and Mohammad Isam
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Lawrence Mahatlane on his team's defeat: "They feel that they have let a lot of people down, they have let themselves down more importantly" © ICC

South Africa Under-19s coach Lawrence Mahatlane has played down fears of a malaise in the country's cricket system after his team, the defending champions, were booted out of the Under-19 World Cup in the first round. Their performance is the third disappointment for South Africa in the last week, after the senior side lost a Test series to England 2-1 and the A side were beaten by the tourists as well, raising concerns about the health of the game in the country.

"We've just had two bad batting days but as a country we are still in a strong position with a very good youth system," Mahatlane told ESPNcricinfo.

Batting woes have hit all South Africa's teams and have plagued the Under-19s side since last year, when they lost successive seven-match series against Bangladesh Under-19s. In 14 innings, South Africa only managed totals over 200 five times and were never able to score more than 250. Before the World Cup, they acquired the services of former India batsman S Sriram to guide the young batsmen and Mahatlane thought that made some difference.

"We used a lot of resources in the build-up. Sri was a very big part of it; he spent a week with us in Dubai and a couple of days here. Back home, we had camps and we really worked hard with different individuals to get the thinking right, to get guys to understand the game better," he said. "I think we have improved. Our ability to play spin has definitely improved where originally against Bangladesh we did struggle against the spinners. For me, the big issue for us on this tour is our thinking and execution rather than our ability."

South Africa lost the tournament opener to Bangladesh after they failed to chase down 241 and then suffered the shock of the competition when they could not defend 136 against neighbours Namibia Under-19s. That defeat stung even more because Namibia are coached by former Titans' player Pierre de Bruyn.

Mahatlane admitted the fall from grace hurt both him and his team. "They are very disappointed. They know they are better than that. They feel that they have let a lot of people down, they have let themselves down more importantly," he said. "I am very disappointed because I know how good this group of players is."

It is important to note that this is not the same group of players who lifted the trophy in 2014. In fact, Mahatlane's team does not have one player Ray Jennings' side had. In essence, after the UAE triumph, everything about South Africa's Under-19s set-up changed. What Mahatlane would have wanted to see as part of that change was more exposure, which he believes could have stood this side in better stead.

"I don't think we focus as hard as other countries [in Under-19s cricket]," he said. "Look at some of the stats that have come up on the screen, there are guys who have played 50 U-19 youth internationals. Our highest capped guy has played 14 games. Our school cricket is still our strength and base, and we back that system. Hopefully, we can expose these youngsters to more international cricket and more tours because that's where the learning happens."

Since the end of the 2014 World Cup, Dayyan Galiem has played 16 Youth ODIs, the most for a South African player. In the same period, eight Bangladesh players have played between 21 and 30 Youth ODIs while a couple of Sri Lankan players have also featured in more games than the South Africans. Overall, Quinton de Kock's 30 Youth ODI appearances are the highest for South Africa, while three Bangladesh players have played more than 50 games.

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  • Brokensaint on February 2, 2016, 19:34 GMT

    amohan is a truly open system where talent alone is the only selection criteria players like rabada and bavuma would have gotten to the top.....so your comments are not based on facts but rather warped logic.

  •   Shawn Belluigi on February 2, 2016, 11:54 GMT

    It was a terrible loss especially since the Namibian team cannot even beat all of our Provincial sides. I know of quite a few school teams that will be able to beat them. I think that it was over confidence. The players from SA that were there were the best U19's that we have got. Liam Smith, Dayaan Galiem and Wiaan Mulder are very good players. The rest have to also show what they have got.

  •   Braam Olwage on February 2, 2016, 10:17 GMT

    NOPE, sorry no excuses will do, losing to namibia who only set up 136 is nothing short of abysmal. Ray Jennings who is an experienced coach who guided our previous team to wining the tournament should NEVER have been fired. Our retarded forced transformation politics are costing us, and its quite evident. Transformation doesnt start at the top is starts at the bottom. Mahatlane will unfortunately have to take the blame for this one. In fact the stats of the last year really illustrate how badly the new coach is doing, i mean a 7 game losing streak to bangladesh is just unforgivable even against aus that would have been unacceptable.

  • SillyPoint350 on February 2, 2016, 9:30 GMT

    Cant understand why changing what isn't broken instead of what actually is seems to be the discourse. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater? Surely having the new coach primed for the position as an apprentice under Jennings would have been the logical choice. God forbid should anything be done logically!

  • Lakpj on February 2, 2016, 6:27 GMT

    @theprince24 i don't agree with you, winning an u19 cup is good but that doesn't guarantee anything because majority of the u19 players just fade away after couple of years. there are so many u19 stars whose names are no longer there in first class cricket even. some of these SA players could be very talented and someday they might end up representing the senior team. the NZ team that lost to Nepal in 2006 had Guptil, Southee and Munro. this is just a stepping stone not the ultimate goal.

  • Robster1 on February 2, 2016, 1:40 GMT

    The utter folly of selecting coaches and players based on skin colour is now being seen. SA need to select their best XI's and political posturing should cease forthwith. Pump money into the grass roots.

  •   Mohaiminul Islam Mufti on February 2, 2016, 1:11 GMT

    It's the pressure that South African young players could not take. After losing the first match to the tournament favourites Bangladesh, the second match became a do-or-die situation. If the first match had been against Scotland and the second match against Namibia, I think things would have been different and South Africa would have been playing India in the quarters ...

  • Jose...P on February 2, 2016, 1:00 GMT

    Looks, the under 19 team's coach is a worthy successor to Domingo. Both are capable of replacing "Atlas" of the legend. Atlas shrugged, according to the legend, while carrying the universe on his strong shoulders. These two? No. Never.

  • HOPE-4-RSA-GILL on February 1, 2016, 23:02 GMT

    They could not adjusted in Asian conditions . That s why SA have to go out of the tourney . The youngster are very talented but the failure of the combination is the main key . This is the basic line and problem in SA cricket . The seniors had faced this in 2003 in home too ...

  • Dhirshan Gobind on February 1, 2016, 20:17 GMT

    Why dont you say it like it is coach! Ray Jennings should not have been fired in the 1st place! Transformation cost us.

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