Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Minor League Player Spotlight: Andries Gous and Vatsal Vaghela. Gous has been an instant hit with the Seattle Thunderbolts.
Gous has been an instant hit with the Seattle Thunderbolts.
“You remind me of Rohit Sharma in everything that you do,” said Allan Donald to a young Andries Gous who was still finding his feet in franchise cricket in South Africa.
Outlandish as it may sound, it was a big remark from a legend of the game who is known to have a measure over his words. His accomplishments may not be anywhere close to that of the Indian legend but his delightful all-round elegant stroke play, blended with an unhurried presence on the wicket, makes him a desert mirage of the great man.
Born in Bloemfontein in South Africa and a veteran of 60 first class games at the age of 27, Gous now lives in Seattle, a cricketing outpost in the USA. A testimony to his pedigree as a batsman, he averages over 40 in first class cricket and over 50 in South Africa's One Day tournament in the last 5 seasons. Wearing the Proteas cap was a boyhood dream for him but with racial quotas and a deflating South African cricket system, Gous had a choice to make.
“It was a no brainer! Yes, the sentiment for playing for South Africa was still there. But I'm only 27 and there is a considerable window for me to shine at the international level. I'm optimistic about Major League Cricket and building the cricketing revolution with the Minor League as well” said Gous on his move to the US.
Gous has been an instant hit with the Seattle Thunderbolts. He has now amassed 399 runs in 14 games at a healthy strike rate of 139. Gous formed the bulwark of Seattle's batting this season and carried the team single handedly, scoring around 25% of the runs from the team's overall run tally. His calming presence in the middle and the dugout has been critical in Seattle finishing in the top 4 of a highly competitive Western Division of the Pacific conference. In a team packed with amateur batsmen, Gous took the mantle on himself to mentor them.
“We are trying to bring a professional set up in Seattle. It is not quite what it was in South Africa for me. But we are trying to inculcate proper work ethic within the group. The idea is to grow together as a team” added Gous.
19-year-old left arm spinner Vatsal Vaghela was left bemused when former Sri Lanka batsman Shehan Jayasuriya swatted him for a powerfully through the mid-wicket fence. “I didn't know what happened over there. I bowled one of the best balls in the game. I still don't know how he connected it!”
Vaghela however showed his depth as a bowler and foxed Jayasuriya within 2 balls by inviting him to go after him again. Jayasuriya couldn't gauge the variation in pace which also got Vaghela some bite off the wicket as he miscued it to short third man. Vaghela was elated.
Vaghela has sustained that energy with the ball right throughout the season. He now has 23 wickets in 12 games at 10 a piece. He strikes every 12 balls at less than 6 an over. These numbers are a pipe dream even for seasoned bowlers at minor league level. But Vaghela, who only took to left arm spin a couple of years ago is taking to the challenge like a duck takes to water.
“It is a huge boost to have people like Sami Aslam and Hammad Azam on the field. They have a lot of experience. They keep telling me what I should do and how I should go. And they helped me understand what I should be doing in what situations because they've been in those situations multiple times in their careers. So, I'm always picking their brains and they're always happy to help” said Vagehla, heaping praise on Aslam and Azam.
According to Vaghela, being with the Golden State Grizzlies has infused a sense of discipline in his overall outlook towards cricket. He now plans his bowling training sessions with set goals on what he wants to extract out of a particular session.
“Being with Grizzlies think tank has changed my perspective on how to approach my practice sessions. Earlier I used to just bowl for long hours. But now there is a purpose in every session. I focus on imparting more revolutions in the ball in a session and in the next maybe just focusing on completing my action to get the rhythm going. And the difference has shown” added Vaghela.
Vaghela has certainly turned some heads with stupendous performances up until now. It remains to be seen how well he can sustain these windfall returns with the ball.