Durban – As the pre-season ramps up towards the start of the new domestic cricket campaign, two Hollywoodbets Dolphins stars Ruan de Swardt and Thamsanqa Khumalo have both been included in the new National Men’s Academy intake.
The young Dolphins players are two new faces in the squad that will remain in the Academy for the next three years and will join fellow Dolphins Grant Roelofsen, Lifa Ntanzi, Bryce Parsons and Thando Ntini – all of whom have been part of the Academy before.
Malibongwe Maketa will fill the role as head coach of the National Academy and they will play matches as the SA Emerging team.
For Dolphins head coach Imraan Khan, having his young players in a professional environment can only make them better cricketers in the long run.
“We want our younger guys to be involved in high-level cricket as much as possible,” Khan said.
“To see so many of our younger guys involved in the National Academy and hopefully going on international tours and playing against the best that other countries have to offer can only develop them into better players.
“It’s an exciting time for the guys and we hope that they can grow in that environment.”
The Academy will convene for a five week induction camp and then there are various camps for players throughout the season at the CSA High Performance Centre in Pretoria as well as visits from coaches to players at a provincial level.
CEO of KZN Cricket Heinrich Strydom sees the inclusion of the Dolphins players in the National Academy as a crucial part in helping the players grow and push for higher honours.
“Helping players take that next step to international level is a vital part of what we do and it’s important that we support players in every way possible,” Strydom said.
“The National Academy continues to play an important role in the national cricketing pipe-line and it’s a big motivation for players who are making that next step in their careers.
“We want to wish our players all the best at the Academy and on the tours that the SA Emerging side will be going on in the future.”
Newcomers to the Academy De Swart and Khumalo join some of the most talented young players in the country.
To be joining a programme like the National Academy is a dream come true for Ntuzuma born Khumalo.
“When I was first told I was selected for the Academy I was so excited!” the youngster said.
“It’s such a boost for me to be included because it shows that people have been seeing the work that I have been putting in and I cannot wait to get going.
“It’s going to be an incredible experience and I cannot wait to learn as much as I can over the next few years with the Academy.”
De Swardt had a break-out season for the Dolphins last season and formed an important part of the squad across the formats while Khumalo has received his first professional contract with the union for the upcoming season.
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