Gerhardus Fourie with one of his heroes, the Proteas speedster, Dale Steyn.
Date: 03 November 2017 By: Anton van Zyl
The 15-year-old Gerhardus Fourie from Louis Trichardt is the country’s fastest bowler at school level. During the recent Audi Q5 Fast Track competition, his bowling speed was measured at an astonishing 135.4 km/h. His unique talent also caught the eye of, among others, the Proteas’ head coach, Ottis Gibson, who expressed the hope that players such as Gerhardus would continue South Africa’s legacy of producing the world’s best fast bowlers.
Gerhardus is the son of Joubert Fourie, well-known for his cricketing skills in the Soutpansberg. Joubert not only captained the local club for many years, but also the Far North side. Gerhardus and his brother, AJ, literally grew up next to the cricket field, both starting their cricket careers at Louis Trichardt Primary School. Their grandfather is Tobie Fourie, who started the well-known Limpopo Dairy, which nowadays is one of the biggest producers of dairy products in the country.
Gerhardus is currently a Grade 9 pupil at Merensky High School just outside Tzaneen. Even at such a young age, he plays for both the U/15 and first team of his school. He bats at number four and is very proud of his average of 44 the past season. It was his bowling prowess, however, that caught the eye of the national talent scouts.
When the Audi Q5 Fast Track initiative was launched in September this year, it created a lot of interest from young cricket players such as Gerhardus. On 11 October the venue for the regional trials was Pietersburg High School in Polokwane and the province’s top young cricket players convened to try and catch the eyes of coaches and experts such as ex-Protea speedster and development guru Mfuneko Ngam.
The bowling lab present at the venue made use of the same technology that the Proteas team uses to train with. It comprises an inflatable tunnel with a state-of-the-art PitchVision mat under the pitch to analyse a participant’s bowling delivery in real time.
The bowling lab was originally created as a fan engagement activation within stadia at international cricket events. Audi and CSA have, however, found an opportunity to take the bowling lab out of a traditional cricket space and put it to good use to try and unearth South Africa’s next crop of fast bowlers.
Gerhardus was one of the players selected to take part in the national finals held at the Clifton Oval in Cape Town on 20 October. Only 24 young bowlers (boys and girls) from across the country were invited to showcase their talent in front of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) development team.
On the day of the final, the young bowlers were put through their paces by what was undoubtedly the foremost scouting team ever assembled in South African cricket. The team included: Corrie van Zyl (Cricket General Manager: CSA); David Mokopanele (Manager: Mass Participation); Victor Mpitsang (SA U/19 Convenor of Selectors); Ottis Gibson and Hilton Moreeng (Proteas national coaches); Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dane Paterson, Dwayne Pretorius and Shabnim Ismail (current Proteas). The scouting team took the boys and girls through a series of training sessions and motivational talks before assessing their bowling potential, using the Audi Bowling Lab.
Gerhardus Fourie (boys) from Limpopo and Constance Sardick (girls) from Gauteng emerged as winners of the day.
“I was immensely impressed by the level of talent we witnessed here today,” commented Ottis Gibson, Standard Bank Proteas Head Coach. “Having come from a fast-bowling background, I am very excited about this initiative and to have been a part of it. South Africa has a great fast-bowling tradition, and my hope is that one of the young bowlers we witnessed here today will continue that legacy in the future,” he added.
When Gerhardus was interviewed by the Bulletin newspaper in Tzaneen last week, he was very modest about his achievement. “Though I am walking on air right now, I am pretty sure that there must be one or two other bowlers in the country that match or even better the speeds that were recorded during the Audi Fast Track series,” said Fourie humbly. “They say, however, that this is the fastest they recorded in all the provinces.”
During the Audi Q5 Fast Track event, Gerhardus had the chance to shake hands with his bowling hero (and former Merensky scholar) Dale Steyn. “I was so motivated with Dale there, I bowled my best just to impress him. He is and has always been my inspiration, so having him there was just amazing.”
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror for over 27 years. He graduated at the the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.