Corbin ‘Thor’ Bosch is hoping for a superhero moment in the SA20.
Corbin Bosch is such a big fan of Thor from the Marvel Universe that he often celebrates with an imaginary hammer. In the past year, he has increased the power of his swing and now hits bowlers like Thor hits bad guys with Mjolnir. So it was bound to happen that Bosch got the name Thor.
“Bosch said during the CPL, “I love all of their [Marvel] movies, and I’m a big fan of their Avengers series. When I was a kid, Thor was my favorite character. So when I first got to the CPL, I wanted to try to do a party with every Marvel character. I began with Thor, and it just kind of stuck. It’s a party I like, and I play cricket to have fun, so this one has stuck with me.”
Bosch was named the Player of the Match at the Under-19 World Cup final in the UAE in 2014, which South Africa won. His senior career didn’t take off the way everyone thought it would after his success with the U-19 team, but he’s finally getting noticed now that he’s in the big leagues.
Last year, Bosch was a replacement player for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, and the Barbados team signed him up for the CPL. The Royals’ run to the CPL final was helped by how flexible he was with the bat, but they lost to Jamaica Tallawahs in the end. Bosch is now ready to do it all over again for Royals, but this time at home in the SA20.
He said, “This SA20 is going to be huge.” “I think it’s a great chance for guys to get their names out there and show that South Africa might have a lot more talented cricketers than just those who play in the IPL and for South Africa. It’s a well-known place for guys, like me, to show off their skills and show what they’re all about and how they can dominate, whether they’re using a bat or a ball. A lot of guys have never heard of the players who are now in the spotlight on one of the biggest stages in the world. Who knows who from South Africa will be the next big thing?”
The same thing could be true of Bosch. He has gotten bigger so that he can hit more sixes and pound the pitch with the ball, both of which are important in T20 cricket. He usually bats lower down the order for Titans in domestic cricket, but Royals’ management saw some spark in his hitting and used him as a pinch-hitter at No. 3 in the CPL.
“I’m still working on my hitting,” Bosch said. “Before I came to the Caribbean, coaches told me that my new role in the CPL would be at 3. So, I figured it out while I was training with the Titans back home to improve my skills. I still feel like I’m just starting out as a batter, and I have a lot to learn. I’m trying to take in as much information as I can and figure out what works and what doesn’t.
“I’ve done a lot of range hitting and just been trying to figure out where I can be dominant. If the ball is in my area, I know I can take on any bowler in any situation. At the same time, I’ve been working on the areas where I’m weaker. My goal is to become one of the best, if not the best, all-around players in the world. This is how I train my mind every day.”
Because he played club cricket in Australia with Northern Districts Suburbs in 2016. Bosch can now throw the ball around 135kph and step in as a change bowler. Andy Bichel used to work with Bosch, was very impressed with Bosch’s progress when the two met up during the IPL last year. Bosch was with the Rajasthan Royals, and Bichel was the bowling coach for the Lucknow Super Giants.
“I could only bowl about 130kph after high school. I went to Australia to play cricket for a year. While I was there, I changed my mind and decided that I really want to bowl fast. Getting my body stronger wasn’t easy. I spent a lot of time in the gym, and I still do, to keep my body healthy and fit.
“Fast bowling is no joke; you need to be physically ready for what you will put your body through. I still want to get faster at bowling in the next two years. I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface of how fast I can go.”
Bosch comes from a family of cricket players. His father, Tertius Bosch, played 3 international games for South Africa and was one of the fastest bowlers of his time, along with Allan Donald. At the moment, his younger brother Eathan has a contract with both the Dolphins and the Pretoria Capitals. Corbin is excited about the SA20 because he will get to play against his brother.
“I had a great childhood because I grew up in a great family,” Bosch said. “My mother has been a big inspiration for me and my brother. She gave us the freedom to be ourselves and do the things we had always wanted to do. I don’t think I could tell you how many hours and days we spent in our backyard destroying my mom’s grass by playing garden cricket with each other. I’ll be the first to admit that we messed up the garden, but we were just having fun with each other. We just played a lot of garden cricket as kids, and we always pushed each other.
Eathan receives a lot of criticism for not being the best cricketer in his family because his brother Corbin won an Under-19 World Cup, but he got bragging rights before the SA20 by dismissing his older brother.
“I think I’ve played competitive cricket against Eathan twice before. I played for Pretoria, and he played for Durban. In one of those games, he was able to get me out in the last over. He has me beat by a mile (laughs). In 2019, I played for Tshwane Spartans and he played for Paarl Rocks in the MSL, but now we’ve switched teams. If that switch works out, I’ll win the trophy with Paarl and he’ll be upset about losing the [SA20] final.”
“When we played garden cricket, we learned how to be competitive,” Eathan said in a CSA release. “I’m a bit taller [at 1.90m], but he’s a bit bigger. “We haven’t played against each other too often, but I know I’ve knocked him out once and he hasn’t. It can be hard to play against your brother because you want him to do well, but you also want your team to win.
Bosch is especially excited to play with Tabraiz Shamsi again. They played together at Titans, and Bosch hopes that his celebrations will be better than the left-arm wristspinner’s.
Bosch said, “I love playing with Shamsi, and I’m lucky to get to play with him on the Titans.” “He’s so happy and gives the team so much energy, which I love, and it will be hard to top his celebrations. But I’m thinking of a few fun things I can do to make sure that his wicket celebrations can’t top mine.
“Like I said, I play cricket because I like it. This is just one part of the game that makes stressful and pressure situations more fun. The parties are just a way for me to let go and show the world who I really am. Paarl will definitely get the Thor.”
Bosch didn’t get any bids at the IPL 2023 auction. The SA20 gives him another chance to show franchise owners and South Africa’s selection committee how valuable he is.
De Zorzi now has a chance to become the star he has always wanted to be.
Tony de Zorzi returned to the Wanderers eight years after he was captain of King Edwards VII, one of Johannesburg’s best schools, and seven years after he led South Africa’s Under-19 team to a World Cup where they were the defending champions but finished in 11th place. He found friends he didn’t know he had.
There were a few of my friends here, and it’s always nice to have my mum watching,” de Zorzi said. “Some people said they were my friends, but I’ve never met them.”
Natasha raised de Zorzi on her own, and he has always wanted to be the best he could be for her. She doesn’t watch him play much anymore because he took the long way to become an international cricket player. He went to the same school as Neil McKenzie and Graeme Smith, then to Pretoria, and finally to Cape Town, which is 1400 kilometres away from where he grew up. In a way, it was good for de Zorzi to play his first Test match on the Highveld and get his first fifty while Natasha was watching.
He said, “She always sits in the same spot, so I knew where she was.” “Since I’m in Cape Town, she hasn’t been able to watch many games. I hope I can get three figures the next time she comes.”
De Zorzi has set high goals for himself. In the last two years, only one of his teammates has scored a hundred at home, and only two others (Sarel Erwee and Kyle Verreynne, neither of whom is playing in this series) have reached 100. But because he has let people down in the past, he knows this is his chance to step up.
“My life has changed a lot since I played for SA under-19,” de Zorzi said. “I was captain, but I wasn’t the star of that side,” he said.
Because Wiaan Mulder did it. When De Zorzi came back from the World Cup for his age group, he had to go back to club cricket and “start over.” He played for the University of Pretoria team, which was led by Kruger van Wyk, who is now the fielding coach. Then he got a job with Northerns, where he kept getting better and better and averaged almost 80 for the second-tier provincial team in the summer of 2016–17. In the summer of 2020, he moved to Western Province, where Ashwell Prince was the head coach. Since then, he has been made captain.
This summer, he is averaging over 100, mostly because of his unbeaten 304 against the Knights, when Gerald Coetzee was part of his attack (though admittedly not many other big names).
“It’s been a long process, and I’m glad it’s come to this,” said de Zorzi. “It also reminds me of where I came from and to not get too far ahead of myself because I had to do a lot of dirty work to get there. Some guys start getting it a little bit earlier. Mine is starting to come true right now.”
After averaging over 48 in three of the last four seasons, de Zorzi was hard to ignore in this Test squad, but it took a change in leadership for that to happen. He got his chance because the new red-ball coach, Shukri Conrad, also acts as a selector when there isn’t a panel. “We knew it would be a new start when the coaches changed,” de Zorzi said. “If everyone took a chance and did well, you knew there would be a new set of eyes and maybe even more chances. That was a lot of fun. Dean Elgar, who was captain at the time, used to say that the number of runs you scored would get you into the team. Guys knew that they had to have a good season if they wanted to move up. There was nothing else to do.”
But now that it has, players like de Zorzi need to take control of their space. He showed West Indies’ attack what he was made of in the first Test, and Kyle Mayers saw it. “This guy seems to have everything together,” he said. “He is square of the wicket and strong.”
De Zorzi is very good at the cut shot. In this innings, he got almost a third of his runs with the cut shot. However, the West Indies had already figured him out from the first Test. At the SuperSport Park, they tried to give him less space. De Zorzi said, “They stick to the basics a little bit longer.” “You might get a few less bad balls, but international cricketers who do their homework are going to do it. I could tell they had different plans based on how they bowled to me today compared to how they did it at SuperSport Park. They can make it harder for you to score. And, of course, the intensity is a little bit higher. When I got out, I was really tired. It is not easy.”
But so was de Zorzi. During the free-flowing afternoon session in South Africa, he played well. Natasha sat still in the Memorial Stand the whole time. De Zorzi made his first sign to her when he hit Alzarri Joseph out of the ground with the 82nd ball he faced. She would have been incredibly proud, no doubt. As the pitch got faster and West Indies made a comeback, De Zorzi faced 73 more balls and scored 35 more runs.
They lost five wickets for 64 runs after tea, so the game is now tied. If South Africa can’t score more than 350, West Indies might be able to fight back. If you give up on that, on a pitch that is already starting to turn, the game might be over. Either way, it’s set up to bring in people who didn’t know they liked cricket, especially during a mid-week Test match when only a small part of the stadium is filled. But it’s important. And de Zorzi knows that better than anyone else.
The collapse that never came at Hagley Oval involving Sri Lanka
The skies are gray and heavy, like a wet blanket that will soon be thrown over the whole series. The field is so full of plants that animals that live in the woods have moved in. The outfield is wet, and sometimes a cold drizzle falls on biting winds. And while the local bowlers, who are all big and tall, are nimble and strong in their warm-up overs on the practice pitches, the Sri Lankan batters, who are covered in wool sweaters, face throwdowns and look like they are about to be sacrificed on an altar of seam bowling.
Get the coin. Put Sri Lanka in. Watch the ball jump gleefully off the edges of the bats and into the hands of the slip cordon as batter after batter falls like marionettes, the scoreboard showing 45-3, then 67-5, and a few swipes at the end pushing the total just over 100. Here are the usual parts of Sri Lanka’s day one story on a ground like Hagley Oval.
When they were here before, they didn’t have to bat first, but they were still out after 138 runs. The last time, they had players like Kumar Sangakkara on their team, but they still lost by 104 runs. Unless Sri Lanka pulls off a near-miracle in the second innings, which they do from time to time, these are game-changing messes. (Then New Zealand will go up to bat and put on half a million for six while smiling politely, which will only show how bad they were before.)
Then this happened. Four years after the last time they played a Test in New Zealand, where they were beaten by 423 runs at this same site, they had an amazing day of batting. Of defensive play that was mostly okay and technique that was pretty good. Had Sri Lanka’s batters done the work to figure out where their off stump was before they started a Test on foreign soil? Any Sri Lanka fan should feel a tear of pure pride just thinking about it.
Kusal Mendis, who may have been the best player in the XI, took the lead. The most important part of his 87 out of 83 was how he judged length on a surface that was a bit bumpy. When it was on a good length, he defended close to his body, almost always with soft hands, so that when the ball came in and took the edge, it bounced short of the slips. Most of the time, though, he defended inside the line, mostly using his bat to block balls that could hit him in front of the wickets or get past him to the wickets.
When New Zealand’s bowlers bowled fuller and tried hard to get an edge that could be caught, Mendis gave his all to his front-foot strokes, sometimes driving it with authority, other times sending it squirting off the face of the bat through backward point, and other times flicking it deliciously off his pads.
He got 50 runs off of 40 balls, but New Zealand’s bowlers didn’t have a great morning. 44 of those runs came from fours. He and Dimuth Karunaratne, who was just as steady but less aggressive against balls that could be hit, put together a 137-run partnership at the second wicket that was the key to Sri Lanka’s progress on day one. They would get out in consecutive overs, but when they did, they were often replaced by better batsmen.
Angelo Mathews waited for the shorter balls and scored 38 of his 47 runs through the leg side. He also hit a couple of fours off his pads when the ball was close to him. Dinesh Chandimal liked to hit the ball to the off side, and he did so six times. As Dhananjaya de Silva batted with Kasun Rajitha near the end of the day, he made boundaries whenever he could.
Their scoring areas were different, but almost all of Sri Lanka’s top seven batters covered the stumps, didn’t rush at balls until they were set, didn’t mind when deliveries beat their bats, and didn’t chase seaming balls outside their stumps. Even when bowled at (mostly by Tim Southee and Matt Henry), they didn’t give up, which is something they often do when the ball is turning.
Given Sri Lanka’s long tail and lack of experience in the field, which New Zealand can easily take advantage of, 305 for 6 is not a great first-day score. It is possible that New Zealand will win the match. But given the situation, Sri Lanka were good enough. And it’s not often that you can say that about Sri Lanka on the first day of a match in New Zealand.
India’s trust is rewarded by Bharat’s skill behind the stumps.
Sometimes almost everything that makes up a Test match is found in a single ball. One of those balls was the one that knocked Pat Cummins out of the game on the third morning in Delhi. It had the blunt precision of the Indian spinners, the deadly glide that made this pitch so hard to play on, and the sweep, a high-risk, high-reward shot so controversial that a thousand autopsies were written about it.
And there was one more thing. After the ball slipped under Cummins‘ bat, it hit the inside edge of the outside stump, bounced off the side of the middle stump and landed in KS Bharat’s gloves.
The ball didn’t spin sharply, but it didn’t go all the way with the arm either. After it was thrown, it straightened just a little. It also stayed low before bouncing off the stumps twice. Bharat had followed the ball all the way, even as Cummins took a wild swing, and he had collected it cleanly.
It didn’t matter because the ball was dead by the time he reached it, but he did a good job with his glove.
Later that day, when India had lost four wickets and were 27 runs away from their target, Bharat was moved up the order and scored a brilliant unbeaten 23 off 22 balls, including three perfectly timed fours to cover and a solid knock with a slog-swept six.
In his first two Test innings, Bharat had scored 8 and 6 in the first two games of this series. He must have felt much better after that start because he played on Sunday. Some watching from the outside might have even thought he was trying to save his career with that performance.
But India probably wouldn’t have seriously considered taking Bharat out of the game after Delhi, even if he had done nothing in the second innings. They probably know that anyone can score a number of low scores on difficult pitches, and they may have seen glimpses of Bharat’s counter-attacking potential during his brief stint with the Indian national team
It took a long time for these things to happen.
In May 2018, Indian senior team officials selected Bharat as the goalkeeper for the four-day tour and Rishabh Pant as the goalkeeper for the 50-over tour. The Indian senior team was also touring England that summer, so the A tour was a shadow tour. At the time, officials felt that Bharat was India’s best pure goalkeeper and Pant was an exciting batsman whose glovework needed work.
When Wriddhiman Saha got injured and could not join the England tour, India included Pant in its Test team in place of Bharat. The genius is going in his own direction.
But Bharat remained an important player in India’s second team. Since the beginning of 2018, he has played 19 first-class matches for the India A team, which is more than any other player except Abhimanyu Easwaran, who bats first. In those India A matches, he has scored 971 runs at a rate of 48.55, including three hundreds.
Last year, when India took Saha out of its test team, Bharat took his place. So it made sense that Bharat made his debut when Pant was injured. The Indian team management may have been tempted by Ishan Kishan’s competing claims, but they chose Bharat at the start of this Border-Gavaskar series.
At the start of the 2019-20 home season, India dropped Pant from the Test programme XI and brought back Saha for a series against South Africa. Virat Kohli described Saha as the best goalkeeper in the world and they felt his good glove work was important on India’s winding tracks. They felt that Pant still needed to work on his goalkeeping. Pant worked on it and became a world-class goalkeeper when India played England in early 2021. Until then, however, Saha was still the first choice for home games.
At the start of this series between India and Australia, the same idea was in play. India appreciates how good Bharat is with the bat, but they know he is their best goalkeeper when Pant is not around.