Corbin, son of Tertius
Growing up in the shadow of a tragedy has not been easy, but that has made South Africa's Corbin Bosch tougher and hungrier for success
Corbin Bosch was just five when his father, Tertius Bosch, passed away in 2000. Tertius played one Test and two ODIs for South Africa in 1992 and opened the bowling in their first Test since readmittance, in Barbados. He was known to be as fast as Allan Donald but his Test career ended at 26 and his life, cruelly cut short at 33. Tertius was originally said to have succumbed to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare viral infection, but 18 months later, his body was exhumed and a post mortem suggested that he may have been poisoned.
Corbin has grown up in the shadow of this tragedy. He has since followed in the footsteps of his dad as a right-arm seamer. February 14 was Tertius' 14th death anniversary and it coincided with his son's first appearance in front of a worldwide audience, at the opening game of the Under-19 World Cup against West Indies. The wiry, blonde haired Corbin took 2 for 25 but he saved his best performance in the final, taking 4 for 15 in 7.3 overs to derail Pakistan's batting.
Watching from the commentary box in Dubai was Jonty Rhodes, who had played with Tertius and watching young Corbin bowl was touching for him. "Real lump in my throat watching son of late Tertius Bosch bowling so well in the final," Rhodes tweeted.
Corbin sat alongside his captain Aiden Markram barely minutes after they got their hands on the World Cup trophy, celebrating football style with chants of 'ole ole ole ole…ole..ole'. Corbin cut a calm figure at the post-match press conference, with the winners' medal around his neck. Though only 19 and with a promising career ahead of him, Corbin was humble enough to admit that he was still very much in his dad's shadow.
"Growing up, I always felt inferior. Inferior to what he had done," Corbin said. "Growing up, I wasn't the best cricketer in the world. Through the years, as I grew as a person and not only just as a cricketer, I think it has made me a bit more hungry just to succeed that much more and then play for him - which is not just an honour but a huge privilege."
It wasn't surprising that he had dedicated his performance to his dad. Tertius was one half of a feared new-ball pairing with Fanie de Villiers for Northern Transvaal, before moving to Natal. The opening day of the U-19 World Cup was an emotional moment for his son in more ways than one.
"He passed away on the day of my first game against the West Indies and I think just then, everything just catapulted. Inside I had this huge belief that I am playing here because of him. He is the reason why I started cricket and the reason why I love it to this day"Corbin Bosch, on his father
"He passed away on the day of my first game against the West Indies and I think just then, everything just catapulted. Inside I had this huge belief that I am playing here because of him. He is the reason why I started cricket and the reason why I love it to this day."
A common link between dad and son is Ray Jennings, the U-19 coach and former Transvaal wicketkeeper. Jennings, who played with Tertius, remembers Tertius as a "really fantastic human being". Jennings has known Corbin since he was born and has tracked his development over the last 15 years.
"A guy like Corbin is a fighter," Jennings said. "He has been at university with one of the coaches that I coached and he has passed on my value system on to his players. I use him in our system to groom university students and 5 or 6 of them have been marked there, including Bosch. He (Bosch) has been a prolific South African U-21 hockey goal-keeper, very agile, nice and tough.
"He has two or three people he uses as his father figure, with me being one of the coaches and a chap called Anton Ferreira. We have played with his father so we know the background of Corbin. We have been there for him."
Corbin's accuracy fetched him those four wickets in the final, with three of his four victims dismissed caught behind. The fourth was an inswinging yorker to dislodge a tailender and end the innings. His partnership with Justin Dill in a combined spell of 14 overs suffocated Pakistan as they conceded just 16 and shared five wickets.
"Just keeping it simple was the best option," Corbin said. "Some days you feel that you need to change things up. I think today, just me keeping it simple and executing what I wanted to do was the best."
Corbin had toured India last year but played just one game in the U-19 quadrangular series but didn't bowl, as he had just come off a stress fracture he picked up in July. He spent most of his time in the gym and Jennings says it was good on him that he peaked in the World Cup, having bowled a full quota of ten overs in the quarter-final against Afghanistan as a sign of his recovery.
An area that needs improvement is his pace. "He bowls at 120-125 kph, but he needs to get it up to 140, and then he will be quite a big threat," Jennings said. "He is one of the guys that lacks focus consistently throughout the game but that comes with experience and growth. Get him in a good environment and good coaches and he will grow." If he can crank it to 145 and above, memories of his dad should come flooding back.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo