I was lucky enough to be in the early game, which was really cool. It was nice to see the people there. However, as I said last time, school has started, and everyone is back to work. It was nice to see everyone cheering for South Africa in that game. It's just a great atmosphere and good vibes. And I am sure people are enjoying it on the field too.
South Africa is known for bouncy and swinging, seaming tracks, but the pitches so far have something for everyone. There is something for the spinners, there is something for the batsmen also. There is usually good swell in Potchefstroom and the north-west, but this is the middle of the season. It is getting hot in some areas. Spinners, seamers, there is something on offer for everyone.
So far in the tournament, I think in general, one thing that stood out was that everyone was quite nice and calm. Even when talking to the captains, they were very nice and calm and it didn't feel like it was the World Cup. It seemed like they were very focused and knew what to do. He was relaxed.
I watched the opening game between South Africa and West Indies, it was great to see good and big, strong guys. You can see proper athletes. There were some good guys on the team who I thought would do well in the early games.
There has been a lot of pressure regarding South Africa's performance in this tournament. I think whether they know it or realize it or not, there's pressure playing at home. This is a big tournament. You want to do good for everyone. You have got a lot of extra support that you never had before in your life. So there is a certain expectation of trying to perform well, but it is something you have to put behind you and focus on ball by ball, game by game. Just try and keep it as clear as possible.
South Africa has played all its matches so far in Potchefstroom. So if there is a change of venue, it could be something that becomes difficult as they have played all their games in Potchefstroom. You get used to the conditions, you train in those nets, so if there is a change somewhere, hopefully it might affect the team.
I have to be a little biased towards the South African team as well. It's good to see guys bowling seam-up, swinging the ball and trying to make the best of the conditions. And obviously, the batsmen are playing very well. Everyone seems to be swinging the ball, which is great to see. I think that's something that has been lost a bit over the last few years, especially in South Africa.
I would also like to point out Kwena Mfaka as an impressive young player. The way he was delivering his yorkers and bumpers and also swinging the ball was really impressive and it looked like he knew what he was going to do.
He seemed to have planned to a certain extent and it was good to see how he took things into his own hands, but I was really impressed and I thought he was bowling very cleverly. Nice to see this.
In general, the level I saw at the tournament has been quite good. You can't just look at the score and think it's a bad game or a good game. You have to play keeping the conditions in mind and I think it has been really good so far.
One thing I realized is that many traditionally experienced countries are doing really well. Once the more experienced countries play against the less experienced countries, you may see that there is probably still a slight difference. I think with the main teams, the gap reduces considerably because of the experience of the players in Under-19 cricket.
In terms of predicting the final four, I would still go with South Africa, Australia, India and England, as I wrote earlier. I think these are my final four. Looking at the results of these teams briefly, I think they are performing well.
For countries which have not played cricket for a very long time or which are developing as cricket playing countries, it is really tough at the Under-19 level. It is really difficult for Under-19 teams to be at the same level as countries like South Africa, India, Australia and England where everyone plays cricket. They are getting there, but are not there yet, so I need to stick to the experienced countries right now.
The Super Six stage is in front of us and this is where the pressure increases. It is always difficult. Once you get to that part of the tournament, once you get closer to the end, it becomes really tough, and small mistakes here can cause a lot of frustration in the team.
And I think the teams that find balance and have an understanding of what to expect in the upcoming games will probably come out on top. It is difficult because there will be a lot of pressure. I wouldn't say there's a fear of failure, but it becomes a thing. You don't want to fail. You really want to do well. Everyone is supporting everyone else. There is more excitement again about every team.
I would say to all the players in the Super Six stage and the rest of the matches, keep it as simple as possible. Try and stick to what has got you to where you are today. Don't try to change anything. You guys are playing amazing cricket. It is great to see the level of cricket being played. We talked about the brand, the excitement, everything that you guys are going to bring. I think you guys have figured it out. You have done more than many people expected, myself included.
Keep it up, and good luck in the last few games. This is a really exciting part of the tournament, it's something everyone is looking forward to. And not everyone is able to reach these stages. So good luck, play nice, keep it as basic as possible and enjoy every moment.
Finally, to the fans, thank you very much for supporting the teams on the field. It was great to see everyone at the games. Work has started, school has started, but it's great to have those guys in sports supporting the boys, no matter what country it is. I think South Africa is a great country. Everyone loves cricket, and it's great to see people at games.
And especially to have everyone's support at home, it's been great. I know people are really enjoying it. The atmosphere is great and they are enjoying the stage.
They are the stars of the future, they are the next generation, so it is really exciting to watch them. It's great to have the support, and it's also exciting to see who is going to be the next big thing from the Under-19 World Cup.
I'm very excited for what's to come and I'm sure everyone else is too. I am sure everyone will be behind their favorite teams in the next few matches.