Bjorn Fortuin will be returning to the place where his love for cricket started as he prepares to star for the Paarl Rocks in the upcoming Mzansi Super League (MSL), starting on 16 November.
The 24-year-old allrounder was born and raised in the Western Cape suburb of Paarl but made the trek up north of South Africa to play professionally, making his first-class debut for North West in 2013.
The left-arm spinner has since gone on to forge a successful career in the Highveld, with North West and the Lions franchise, that has already seen him chosen for the SA Emerging team.
Having played 34 T20s and boasting an economy-rate of under seven runs to the over, Fortuin was one of most sought-after domestic players when the draft for the MSL took place last month.
While he says he didn’t watch the draft – he played a round of golf instead – Fortuin was snapped up for the value of R550 000 by the Paarl Rocks, although his mother – who still lives in Paarl – had given him the news that he had been picked for the Tshwane Spartans.
Fortuin explained to Cricket365: “I was actually playing golf and I knew the draft was taking place and then I saw a couple of missed calls from my mom but she was confused as she thought I was picked in the Tshwane team.
“She was like ‘Oh you are playing for the Tshwane Spartans’ but then later on my roommate – and Lions teammate Beuran Hendricks – said you going back home so that was exciting news.”
Growing up in Paarl, Fortuin speaks with fondness of how he fell in love with the sport at a young age and how he attended games at Boland Park to watch the Cape Cobras in domestic tournaments.
Fortuin also mentioned the players he admired as a youngster and one of them is Henry Davids, a veteran in South African domestic cricket, who will be a teammate of his at the Paarl Rocks.
“Paarl is quite a sporting town, so I grew up playing up club cricket here,” Fortuin said.
“Also coming to the stadium to watch the Cobras – guys like Henry Davids, Rory Kleinveldt – is how we found our love for the game here in Paarl.
“So it is a massive honour and a dream come true to play with these guys in the same team.
“My family is still firmly based in Paarl, so every time we play against the Cobras it is lovely to be back home.”
Fortuin is keen to use the opportunity given to him by a tournament like the MSL to learn as much as he can from the international players that will be his teammates.
Proteas captain skipper Faf du Plessis and national teammate Tabraiz Shamsi, who like Fortuin is a left-arm spinner, as well as West Indian Dwayne Bravo and Australian Michael Klinger will be who Fortuin is hoping to gain some valuable knowledge from that will hopefully propel him to the next level.
“Personally, I don’t know those guys too well. You just see them playing in T20 leagues or international games so it is really exciting to be part of that,” Fortuin continued.
“I can learn a lot from them. My spinning partner will be Shamsi so there will be someone that I can sponge off and figure out and learn what it takes to get to the next level, so that is something I am looking forward to.”
The Paarl Rocks open their MSL campaign when they host the Tshwane Spartans at Boland Park on 18 November.
By Nasri Alexander
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