Corbin 'Thor' Bosch hopes to find his superhero moment in the SA20

The South African allrounder, who impressed with the bat in the CPL last year, is looking to unleash his inner Avenger for the Paarl Royals franchise

Deivarayan Muthu
Corbin Bosch gets ready to bowl, Qualifier 1, Barbados Royals vs Guyana Amazon Warriors, Georgetown, September 27, 2022

Marvel at this: Corbin Bosch's key performances in the 2022 CPL played a part in Barbados Royals' near-undefeated run to the final  •  CPL T20 via Getty Images

South African allrounder Corbin Bosch is such a big fan of Thor from the Marvel Universe that he often celebrates with an imaginary hammer. He has added more power to his batting in the past year and smacks bowlers away like the Marvel superhero does villains with Mjolnir. So it's only inevitable that Bosch has earned the nickname Thor.
"I love all their [Marvel] movies and I'm a big fan of their Avengers series," Bosch said during the CPL, "and growing up, Thor has been my favourite character. So when I came to the CPL, my initial plan was to try and do a celebration [with] every single Marvel character. I started with Thor and it kind of just stuck. It's a celebration I enjoy, and I play to enjoy my cricket and this is one of those that stuck with me."
Bosch was the Player of the Match in the 2014 Under-19 World Cup final in the UAE, when South Africa clinched the title. His senior career didn't quite take off like it was expected to after the U-19 success, but he is finally in the spotlight now after having broken into the big leagues in 2022.
Bosch was a replacement player for Rajasthan Royals last year in the IPL and he was signed up by the Barbados side in the CPL. His flexibility with the bat was among the highlights of Royals' run to the CPL final, though they eventually lost to Jamaica Tallawahs. Bosch is now ready to do it all over again for Royals, this time at home in the SA20.
"This SA20 is going to be huge," he said. "I think it's a fantastic opportunity for guys to put their names on the map and say: 'Hey, maybe South Africa has a lot more talented cricketers than those that might just be seen in the IPL and [playing] for South Africa.' It's a recognised platform for guys, including myself, to just display their skills and show what they're about and how they can dominate - whether with bat or ball. Players a lot of guys haven't heard about are all of a sudden front and centre of one of the biggest stages in the world. Who knows who is going to be the next big thing from South Africa?"
Bosch could potentially be that very thing. He has bulked up to improve his six-hitting and to pound the pitch with the ball - traits that are in demand in T20 cricket. He usually bats lower down the order for Titans in domestic cricket, but Royals' management saw some spark in his batting and used him as a pinch-hitting No. 3 in the CPL.
"For me, my batting is a work in progress," Bosch said. "Me batting at No. 3 in the CPL was a new role that a couple of coaches mentioned to me even before I came here [to the Caribbean]. So, I wrapped my head around it while I was training back home with the Titans to hone my skills. I still feel I'm only in the infancy of my batting and I've got so much to learn - trying to take in as much information as I can and learning what works for me and what doesn't.
"I've done a lot of range-hitting and just trying to figure out the areas where I can be dominating - if the ball is in my area, I know I can take any bowler on in any situation - and at the same time, working on the areas I'm weaker at. My goal is to become one of the best allrounders in the world, if not the best - that is how I mentally train every single day."
With the ball, Bosch can now crank it up around the 135kph range, and step in as a change bowler, thanks largely to his club cricket stint in Australia with Northern Districts Suburbs in 2016. Andy Bichel, who worked with Bosch back then, was particularly impressed with Bosch's progress when the pair caught up during last year's IPL; Bosch was with Rajasthan Royals and Bichel with Lucknow Super Giants as their bowling coach.
"After high school, I only bowled around 130kph. I left for Australia for a year to play a season there and made a mental switch there that I really want to bowl fast. It wasn't easy getting my body stronger. I put in a lot of hours in the gym, and still do, to keep my body fit and healthy.
"Bowling fast is no joke - you need to be physically prepared for what you will put your body through. I'm still looking to bowl even faster in the next couple of years. I feel I'm only starting to touch the untapped potential of the pace I can generate."
Bosch comes from a cricketing family. His father Tertius Bosch, who played three international matches for South Africa, was ranked alongside Allan Donald as one of the fastest bowlers of his era. His younger brother Eathan is currently contracted to Dolphins and Pretoria Capitals. Corbin is looking forward to the prospect of playing against his brother in the SA20.
"Growing up, I was lucky to be part of such a fantastic household," Bosch said. "My mother has been an inspiration - she allowed me and my brother to really express ourselves and do what we always dreamt of doing. I don't think I can tell you the amount of hours and days we spent in our backyard playing garden cricket with one another, ruining my mum's grass. I'll be the first one to say that we destroyed the garden, but it was us enjoying each other's company. Throughout our childhood we just played a lot of garden cricket and we've always pushed one another."
Eathan often cops a fair bit about not being the best cricketer in his family because Corbin has won an Under-19 World Cup, but he claimed bragging rights ahead of the SA20, having dismissed his older brother before.
"I think I've played against Eathan twice before [in competitive cricket]. I played for Pretoria and he played for Durban and he managed to get me out in the last over [of one of those games]. He definitely is one up on me (laughs). For the MSL, I was with Tshwane Spartans and he was with Paarl Rocks in 2019, and all of a sudden we've done a switch. Hopefully, that switch means I get the trophy with Paarl and he becomes a sore loser in the [SA20] final."
"Our competitiveness started in our garden-cricket days," Eathan said in a CSA release. "I'm a bit taller [at 1.90m] but he's a little bigger. "We haven't played against each other too much, I just know that I've got him out once and he hasn't. It can be tough playing against your brother, wanting him to do well but also wanting your team to win."
Bosch is particularly enthused about teaming up once again with Tabraiz Shamsi - they have played together at Titans - and hopes to trump the left-arm wristspinner's snazzy celebrations with his own ones.
"I love playing with Shamsi and I'm fortunate enough to get to play with him at the Titans," Bosch said. "He's so bubbly and gives the team so much energy, which I love, and his celebrations are going to be tough to beat. But I have a few exciting things at the back of my mind that I'm going to try to make sure that his wicket celebrations aren't going to be able to outdo mine.
"Like I said, I play cricket because I enjoy it and this is just one aspect of cricket that adds fun to some stressful situations and pressure situations. The celebrations are [about] just letting go and showing the world who I actually am. The Thor is definitely coming out in Paarl."
Bosch found no takers at the recent IPL 2023 auction, but the SA20 offers him another chance to remind franchise owners - and South Africa's selectors - of his worth.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo