A Wits cricketer is set to take his professional career further.

Wits University cricketer Caleb Pillay has been selected to play for the Central Gauteng Lions Cricket Academy. He joins six other players who have managed to impress the Academy selectors.

“It is exciting, and a new opportunity,” Pillay, 18, told Wits Vuvuzela. “[Training with the Lions] is a lot more different than Durban. Obviously the standards are much higher here, but obviously it would be a dream to play for the Lions one day, it’s something I’m working towards.”

The first-year-BA general student who hails from Chatsworth, KwaZulu-Natal, said that his father introduced him to the sport at the tender age of seven by encouraging him to hit balls in the backyard.

Once Pillay, a left-handed batsman, was selected for the KZN U-11 team while he was at school in Durban, he started taking the sport more seriously.

“I got a scholarship to Westville Boys High School, and then after that I ended up making the KZN U-19 twice [2017 and 2018], and the South African Schools U-19 team last year December,” Pillay said.

Academy service manager Reuben Mandlazi said that Pillay stood out at the Coca-Cola Cricket Week organised by Cricket South Africa in December last year.

“He was identified as one of the boys with potential to play for the academy. We have five pillars; batting, bowling, fielding, attitude and work ethic (fitness). He ticked all the boxes, his dominant trait being a batmanship; he’s a good batter,” Mandlozi told Wits Vuvuzela.

Wits head of cricket Garnett Kruger believes that Pillay is a bright young talent.

“[Pillay] just has natural talent. His hand-eye coordination is good, you can see that he’s got something there, he’s a good striker of the cricket ball.

“He’s still a diamond in the rough, we need to work on his other aspects of cricket, such as fielding, catching, because you have to be versatile as a cricketer, or a sportsman,” Kruger said.

As per the Academy recommendation, Pillay has moved to part-time studies to make room for cricket training.

Pillay says that while his ultimate dream is to play for the Proteas he hopes he will be able to help Wits win the University Sports South Africa cricket tournament in October this year and the Varsity Cup next year.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits cricketer Caleb Pillay hopes to run his way into the Lions team  Photo: Provided