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HomeSportGerald Coetzee a firebrand out to justify ‘Morne Morkel 2.0’ moniker after...

Gerald Coetzee a firebrand out to justify ‘Morne Morkel 2.0’ moniker after Proteas selection

Gerald Coetzee a firebrand out to justify ‘Morne Morkel 2.0’ moniker after Proteas selection

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Johannesburg – Gerald Coetzee is a firebrand who bowls with great pace and possesses the same kind of snarling aggression that made Dale Steyn popular with fans.

Coetzee was called up to the Proteas Test squad for their tour to Australia, although he is only likely to play in the case of one or more injuries. It’s a call-up that has been long in the making not because of any startling form Coetzee has shown at domestic first-class level, but possibly because he has started fulfilling the potential he had as a youngster.

Coetzee has long been on the radar of South African cricket – there was talk of a lanky teenager out of Bloemfontein eight years ago with phrases like “Morne Morkel 2.0” being thrown around. He cemented his name in local circles with impressive performances at the Under-19 World Cup in 2018, where he was named in the team of the tournament.

“The concern with him was that the first year after he started with Under-19s he then led the Knights bowling attack, and then missed the next few years with injury because of workloads,” convenor of selectors Victor Mpitsang.

Indeed over the last three seasons, Coetzee, 22, has played only 12 first-class matches, having made his debut in 2019. His statistics over that time make for good reading: 39 wickets at an average of 29.15. There is stiff competition at domestic level; Ottniel Baartman, Lutho Sipamla, and since last season Duane Olivier, but Coetzee’s potential is clearly something the selectors hope will be unlocked Down Under.

Proteas interim coach, Malibongwe Maketa spoke glowingly of Coetzee’s mental strength, especially in how that aspect shone through as he dealt with overcoming injury.

“Mentally I’ve always believed he is strong, which sets him apart from his peers, and now we want to see how that will (stand up) at (Test) level. It’s quite exciting for us,” Maketa said.

Asked if he would be relying on SA’s fast bowling talent in the same manner as his predecessors, Maketa was unequivocal.

“I have no doubt that the group of fast bowlers we have now can serve Cricket SA for the next five years. It is important to look after them, there is no doubt that they are our ticket towards dominating world cricket, and it is going to be important that we find all the resources to support them,” Maketa said.

The primary resource of course would be for the Proteas batters, to make a lot of runs, for those bowlers to work with.

“We need to make sure you put runs on the board, if the top five or six don’t do the job, you put everyone else under pressure,” said Mpitsang. “We need to start off there … once we have the runs on the board, we know we have the bowling attack to put any team under pressure.”

Maketa is known to be mulling over employing seven batters in the starting team in the way used by the 2012 Proteas side, which beat Australia 1-0 Down Under. “It is definitely something that is in the back of my mind looking at past success in Australia,” Maketa said.

Balancing the starting lineup and assessing conditions will play a role in determining if that strategy is employed.


IOL Sport

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