SA U19s aim to own ‘game changing moments’

South Africa U19 allrounder Hermann Rolfes believes that the key to the team’s continued success at the U19 World Cup will be to win the small moments that could end up changing the direction of a match.

A good piece of fielding resulting in a run out or an exceptional catch could change the complexion of a match to the advantage the fielding side and Rolfes says it was a mixture of that and the team’s determination that has resulted in their success in the tournament so far.

“One of our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) is to define and take advantage of the game changing moments in a match,” he said.

“It can be something that leads to a wicket or a piece of fielding that gets the team’s mood and confidence up after a long stretch in a match where nothing was happening.

“There’s no set definition except that it changes the direction of the game to our advantage.

“This is what we want to keep doing and owning in our matches at the World Cup and these moments always add up to something special at the end of the day.”

The young Proteas have won both of their fixtures in the tournament proper so far, qualifying for the Super League stage with a match to spare and are gearing up for another important clash, this time against the hosts and Group A table toppers, New Zealand on Saturday.

They beat Kenya by 169 runs and more recently, West Indies by 76 in their first day/night encounter of the tournament on Wednesday. Saturday’s match will also be a day/night affair.

Rolfes said that the support he had from his team allowed him to keep a calm head under pressure during the West Indies match where he took 4/33 and the knowledge that he had the backing of his teammates allowed him to keep grafting.

This confidence in the people around him is also a key component of the squad’s closeness in the contest.

“For sure, knowing that you have 10 other guys around you that you can count on is a big thing when you’re playing in a high pressure game that is also a must-win,” he continued.

“The nice thing about this team is that we get along on and off the field so we’re a lot closer than most teams.

“When the pressure is on, I know that I can look to Raynie (captain, Raynard van Tonder) and the guys to get advice or a quick word that can motivate me.

“Usually that’s when those game changing moments come about.”

As they look ahead to the remainder of the competition, Rolfes says it’s important that the team focus the momentum they have built to playing one match at a time and not looking too far ahead in the contest.

“We can take a lot of confidence out of that game (against the West Indies), it gives us a lot of momentum. The team’s feeling good and is focussing only on the next challenge which is against New Zealand.

“We want to stick to the basics and our plans and execute them to the best of our abilities.”

The two sides will be fighting it out for the pole position on the log. New Zealand, who tie South Africa with four points have a superior net run rate which edges them to first place.

Rolfes hopes to topple them from their perch by the end of the match.

“It’s going to be an awesome challenge,” he concluded. “I think we’re definitely going in there with a winning mindset to try and keep the momentum going all the way into the knockout stages.

“We’ll keep taking it one game at a time and are focussing on this game in particular and hopefully we can get another win.”