Junior SA cricket team must overcome off-field issues in World Cup campaign
Ongoing calls are being made to reinstate David Teeger as national U-19 captain.
David Teeger plays a shot for the SA team during their U-19 World Cup warm-up match against Afghanistan earlier this week. Picture: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
Having received more interest and coverage than ever before in the build-up to the tournament — albeit for controversial reasons — the SA junior cricket team will need to put off-field issues aside and focus on the task at hand when they open their U-19 Cricket World Cup campaign in Potchefstroom on Friday.
Last week, Cricket South Africa stripped David Teeger of the national U-19 team’s captaincy after the teenager had made comments in support of Israeli soldiers. This was announced in the wake of government’s decision to open a case of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice.
The federation said it had been warned that protests related to the war in Gaza could be “anticipated at the venues for the tournament”, further claiming there was a risk of “conflict or even violence” if Teeger retained the position.
While Teeger was not expected to lead the SA side, despite calls for him to be reinstated as captain, he remained part of the national squad and was expected to turn out against the Windies in their opening match on Friday.
Five host cities
It remained unclear whether protests would be held outside stadiums, or whether there were any real security concerns, with matches scheduled to be played in Potchefstroom, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, East London and Benoni during the two-and-a-half week tournament.
Following their opening match against the West Indies at JB Marks Oval, South Africa will turn out in Group B games against England and Scotland next week as they embark on an attempt to reclaim the global junior title the nation last won in 2014.
While this year’s U-19 Cricket World Cup was initially scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka, it was moved to South Africa after the Sri Lanka Cricket Board was suspended by the International Cricket Council.
It will be the third time the nation hosts the junior showpiece after it was held in South Africa in 1998 and 2020.
The tournament will feature 16 teams which will be split into four groups in the opening round. The top three sides in each pool will then progress to the second round, in search of four available spots in the semi-finals.
The final will be contested at Willowmoore Park, in Benoni, on 11 February.