Inland’s Burger embraces SA ‘A’ challenge

KZN Inland head coach, Shane Burger’s recent run of success with the Pietermaritzburg based Provincial side has resulted in a call-up to join the South Africa ‘A’ team in Australia for the 50-over quadrangular series against Australia ‘A’, India ‘A’ and the host nation’s National Performance Squad which starts on Saturday.

With Warriors coach, Malibongwe Maketa having overseen proceedings during SA ‘A’s two four-day clashes against Australia ‘A’ already, Burger was set to provide assistance to former Titans mentor, Rob Walter for the limited overs campaign.

Walter’s acceptance of the head coach role at Otago, New Zealand in July though now sees Burger set to work with Cricket South Africa’s High Performance Manager and former Proteas bowling coach, Vincent Barnes.

“I’m really excited to be part of the South Africa ‘A’ mix and it is such a great opportunity for me,” says Burger, who steered his KZN Inland squad to two of 2015/16’s three available Provincial crowns.

“It’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work that goes in behind the scenes.

“I went to Australia with a Johannesburg North junior team when I was just fifteen or sixteen years old so it is great to go back to the Gold Coast where it all started for me,” he adds.

Having only recently called time on his playing career, Burger has already left a telling impression on the coaching front.

The 33-year-old hopes the trip Down Under will help him continue his development as a coach.

“SA ‘A’s four-day squad included a lot of test players – many of whom have a bit of a point to prove – and a few of the one-day guys have now come over for the 50-over stuff, so there is plenty of incredible talent in the squad.

“I played with and against quite a few of the guys during my playing days and it is very exciting to now be given the chance to work with players of their level.

“Australia and India are also two of the top cricketing nations in the world so it really is a great learning opportunity, not only for the players but for me as well.”

While an exciting opportunity, Burger’s promotion does come at an unfortunate price – the trip preventing the KZN Inland coach from being able to oversee his charges’ efforts during the upcoming Africa T20 Cup.

“The Africa T20 Cup is big goal of ours at Inland for the season,” says Burger. “Hopefully we can go one better than our runners-up effort last year.”

“Sadly, with me still being in Australia at the same time as our Pool A campaign, I won’t be there for this year’s tournament.

“Our guys have been working really hard during the winter though and I’m confident they will put in another great performance in their own backyard in Pietermaritzburg over the first weekend of September.”

With Keshav Maharaj having jetted home at the conclusion of the four-day series without playing a game, Burger and Andile Phehlukwayo are joined by Sunfoil Dolphins team mate Khaya Zondo for the 50-over competition.

South Africa ‘A’ get the quadrangular underway on Saturday, 13 August with a clash against Cricket Australia’s National Performance Squad at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville, Queensland.