(Published - 7 December 2018)
UWC rising cricket sensation Zubayr Hamza has been named in the Standard Bank Proteas squad for the three-match Test series against Pakistan – becoming the first cricketer from the University to be selected for the senior national cricket team.
On Thursday it was announced that Hamza, a BCom accounting student, made the cut for the 13-men squad for the test matches that will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion (26 to 30 December), at PPC Newlands (3 to 7 January) and at Bidvest Wanderers (11 to 15 January).
Interestingly, the 23-year-old was playing for UWC in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) semi-final clash against Stellenbosch University – which UWC won – at Boland Park when the news of his selection broke. “We were busy fielding in the game against the Maties when the news came out, and the support and the love that I felt from the guys around me as well as the UWC fraternity was truly heart-warming,” Hamza recalled.
Hamza - whose father, Nizaam Hamza, is a law graduate from UWC – described his inclusion into the senior national cricket team as a dream come true. “It is an honour and a privilege to be selected for the Proteas. It has been in my wildest dreams, and to know that I have been selected is something I’m definitely excited for.
“It is huge step in the right direction for my cricket career. I just have to continue doing what has worked for me, but there is a lot to learn and I will make small changes if necessary. I’m open to learning as much as I can, and hopefully becoming a better all-round person. I’m just going to enjoy the atmosphere and embrace everything that comes along with it.”
UWC Director of Sport Administration, Mandla Gagayi, was elated with the news but said the call up comes as no surprise given that Hamza has been very consistent for UWC and the Cape Cobras. “You will remember that he is our 2017 Sportsman of the Year. As such, that accolade was testimony to his consistent performance. This is another feather in our cap as we, UWC, keep contributing to our country’s development of sport.”
Cricket South Africa (CSA) said Hamza has earned his spot in the team.
“Zubayr has been one of the standout cricketers in domestic cricket over the past year and carried that form into the South Africa A tour to India, where he averaged over 50 in the four-day series against tough opposition and under tough conditions,” CSA posted on its website.
“Before that, he had an outstanding season in the four-day franchise competition where he scored 823 runs, including three centuries, at the impressive average of 69. His selection is part of our vision for the future as we start to feed new players into the system. It is inevitable that some of our senior players will start thinking of retiring in years to come and it is vital that we have a good succession plan in place.”
If Hamza is selected for the final XI, he will become the 100th player to represent the Proteas in the five-day format.
Hamza has continuously put the University on the map since enrolling. His sterling form was rewarded with a call-up to the South Africa A side last year and a contract with the Cape Cobras for the Sunfoil Series two years ago.
He has previously credited his success partially to the Sport Skills for Life Skills (SS4LS) programme, which is based on campus and managed by Advocate Nicholas Kok. He believes that the initiative is one of the best student/sport programmes in South Africa as it offers many opportunities for students. “There is a plethora of reasons that students are unable to accommodate both (study and sport) and that is where the SS4LS programme makes the magic happen.”