All that former UJ all-rounder, Delano Potgieter, needed was a chance to perform on the big stage. He knew he had the talent to entertain and the will to succeed.
When the Varsity Cricket show rolled into Potchefstroom, Delano knew that the spotlight could be shining on him. Kitted in orange and black, he formed a key part of the UJ Army who enjoyed several top tournaments in Varsity Cricket in the past few years, most notably finishing as runners-up in 2019.
Delano took his opportunity with both hands on the fast and frenetic Varsity Cricket stage. A left-handed ball striker of note and a mercurial right arm pacer, Delano proved to be the perfect fit in a hungry and exciting UJ side.
“The Varsity Cricket tournament was an amazing tournament for a lot of players. It got me on the South African cricket map. My fondest moment of Varsity Cricket was being able to play in anything other than our whites. It was an honour to play in the black and orange kit something at that time I haven’t done before,” states Delano.
Delano scored 237 runs (5th highest) in the 2016 tournament and added 262 runs (3rd highest) in the 2019 edition playing a key part in UJ’s success with the likes of Ryan Rickelton, Joshua Richards, Stefan Klopper and Neels Bergh forming a solid batting line-up.
If UJ needed a big wicket or some quick runs at the top of the order, Delano with his right arm medium pace was there to deliver. If you added his former UJ teammates, Joshua Richards (Lions batsman) and current SA Proteas batsman, Ryan Rickelton, to the equation then these three would entertain crowds at will in a boundary festival of note.
“The intensity of Varsity Cricket is high, especially when playing in front of crowds coupled with the pressure of being on television. There is no better way to showcase your talent than on live television. At a young age, Varsity Cricket already gives you a taste of what is to come on the next level,” mentions Delano.
This talented cricketer and Marais Viljoen old boy made his first-class debut for Gauteng in 2015 and represented the Lions with distinction at franchise level for numerous seasons. Delano also featured for the Jozi Stars in the 2019 Mzansi Super League. His consistent good form got noticed at national level and he was chosen for the SA Emerging team for a tour to Namibia in 2021.
Since making his debut in Varsity Cricket back in 2016, Delano has climbed the ranks of South African domestic cricket and transformed into one of the key all-rounders for the North West Dragons side.
Last season he was the Dragons bowler with the golden arm in the 4-day format taking numerous key wickets. He also took a liking to the white ball in the shorter format, hitting crucial runs in the middle order.
Delano’s versatility and being able to smash a ball at will, has made him a sought after T20 cricketer – just ask the Mumbai Indians Cape Town franchise who was keen enough to buy him for a base price of R 175 000 ahead of the inaugural SA20 tournament in 2023.
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity of SA20. I was having dinner with one of the coaches that’s been working with me for a very long time, so when they called out my name it was pretty special. I am super excited and can’t wait for it to start,” says Delano.
The 26-year-old has also met some of his best friends through Varsity Cricket. Two former UJ teammates attended his wedding as groomsmen.
“Ryan Rickelton and I still have contact, as well as Neels Bergh who was my captain at UJ. They were both my groomsmen at my wedding. Varsity Cricket guarantees good friends and good cricket.”
According to Delano, Varsity Cricket presents a fantastic opportunity for young cricketers to gain as much experience as possible, especially as some top domestic talents are also part of the 2022 edition.
“Play your hearts out and learn every day and from everywhere you can. Some of the Varsity cricket players may have played franchise cricket, so ask them all the questions you have.”
Just like Delano, there will be youngsters this year ready to shine in the spotlight when the cameras start to roll. An opportunity of a lifetime awaits in Varsity Cricket.