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Ken Borland

From Tzaneen to Tukkies, Koekemoer is relishing the step up

Posted on April 22, 2014 by Ken

As a boy growing up in the sub-tropical agricultural town of Tzaneen, Tian Koekemoer loved Jonty Rhodes and Dale Steyn and was used to enjoying plenty of success as one of the most talented cricketers at Merensky High School.

Despite Steyn and fellow pace bowlers Marchant de Lange and Ethy Mbhalati all coming from the Limpopo province at the northern edge of South Africa, the region is the poorest in the country, a large rural expanse of mostly tribal area, and is not known for producing many cricketers.

So despite dominating at local level and starring for the Limpopo U19 team, Koekemoer knew that he still needed to be really tested as a cricketer. That has come since he enrolled at the University of Pretoria and studied BA Languages, and started playing for the Assupol Tukkies team.

It’s a star-studded Tukkies team, the most powerful club side in the country, and Koekemoer often has to wait for an opportunity to bat or bowl.

In the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals against Steinhoff Maties, he once again sat patiently waiting for his chance to shine, bowling just two overs in each of the first two games and not getting the chance to bat.

And then the final game gave him his chance. Tukkies finally batted first, and the absence of an unwell Aiden Markram and a few errors by the top-order gave him his chance.

Koekemoer responded with a crucial innings of 19 off 11 balls that lifted Tukkies to a competitive total of 144 for nine, and he then ensured that it would be a day to really remember as he claimed three wickets to stop a strong Maties chase and win the man of the match award.

“I don’t often have to come in under pressure moments, but today I had to and I liked the challenge,” Koekemoer said after the game.

“There are only a few good cricketers in Limpopo, but in Pretoria you’re up against the whole Northerns Premier League and it was an eye-opener. I haven’t really been exposed to that level of cricket, you get used to being the only good player in your team, but this really pushes you.”

Another measure of how well Koekemoer adapts to whatever life throws at him is the fact that he has only been bowling seam since last July.

Prior to that he was an off-spinner, but he broke his finger and was unable to grip the ball and obtain as much turn as previously, so he changed to pace.

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