Stirling Excited by World Cup Challenge

22 Jan

From The Witness - by Lunga Biyela

Kyle Stirling (right) and Alex Baum appeal against Denmark (Photo Ian Potts)South Africa’s Greg Oldfield, Sibonelo Makhanya and Andile Phehlukwayo will not be the only KwaZulu-Natal youngsters taking part at next month’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in Dubai.

Former Westville Boys’ High School pupil Kyle Stirling will also be there. But, unlike the other three who will be singing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika before games, he will be belting out Flower of Scotland.

The Durban-born Stirling, who qualifies to play for Scotland as it is his father George’s place of birth, said they fancied their chances of getting through to the group stages of the competition and qualify for the quarter-finals despite being grouped with traditional cricket giants India and Pakistan.

“Our goal for the World Cup is just like any other side. We want to do our best and play for our potential ranking for the next World Cup,” Stirling told The Witness from Edinburgh yesterday.

“Yes, we are in a tough group with India and Pakistan, but cricket is a mean and nasty game and if we can pull off one surprise victory against either side, providing we beat Papua New Guinea, then we could see Scotland competing against the big guns in the quarter-finals.

“We won’t let the likes of Pakistan and India force us into believing we are not good enough to beat them,” Stirling said. 

The 19-year-old who describes himself as an all-rounder has a bit of pedigree having played for a Westville Boys’ side that was ranked first in the country in 2012, his matric year. In that year, the Westville team under Fabian Lazarus and Doug Watson trained four times a week. 

“That [training] was a lot for a high school side. But, our goal that season was to try and remain unbeaten. We were nearly successful in our goal, but we unfortunately lost a close game against Maritzburg College.

“When we looked at the rankings and saw that we were the number one side in SA, we all immediately forgot about the tough training regime because that made every single ounce of pain worth it,” he said.

How he got to play for Scotland was with the help of Hilton College old boy Preston Mommsen, who plays for the Carlton Cricket Club, which Stirling was interested in signing for.

Hilton College old boy Preston Mommsen (Photo Ian Potts)Mommsen is also the captain of Scotland’s One-Day side.“I was in talks with a club that I was in the process of signing for as their overseas amateur for the 2013 season. Mommsen put me in contact with the Scotland under 19 coach who asked me to send him batting footage of myself. He then invited me on a trial sort of tour to Sri Lanka in March 2013, and it all started from there.”

Stirling will also be one of two players from the Pinetown Cricket Club competing at the World Cup with the other player being South Africa’s Oldfield. 

“I have contacted Greg on numerous occasions leading up to the World Cup and the final announcement of fixtures and groups, and there is no doubt we will be catching up in Dubai over the course of the tournament,” he said.

The goal for Stirling after the World Cup is to try and get into the Dolphins’ high performance academy.
But, he was also open to possibility of giving county cricket a go.

Stirling reaches for a catch during training

“If a county side was to come along and no offers from SA franchises had been made then it would be a very hard offer to ignore as I would like to go as far as I can in my cricketing career,” he said.

Stirling’s Scottish-born father George was proud of his son’s achievements of being chosen to play for Scotland.
“I wish it was me,” he jokingly told The Witness.

“I’m extremely proud of him. He’s had a good time overseas and they’ve been extremely good to him. I’m even more proud because Scotland is where I was born,” said Stirling senior.

Unfortunately, because he was in Holland to see his son’s team qualify for the World Cup, he won’t be able to get time off to go to Dubai. 

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