Fast Bowler Daryn Dupavillon Paving The Way Forward

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“He is a capable strike bowler as well as a bowler who can peg back an innings. At his tender age [of 16] he has also developed an ability to ‘bowl at the death’, which in today’s limited-over forms of the game makes him a useful asset to have in any team.”

Thus far, Dupavillon has appeared for his province all the way along the various age-group teams.

In 2005 he represented KZN Coastal U11, in 2007 he represented KZN Coastal U13 and whilst at Maritzburg College he has represented the KZN Inland U15 side. Quite rightly, there are no national age-group teams selected at these age-group levels but excellence is noted for future camps as the boys’ cricket develops further.

In 2010, Dupavillon’s goal was to be selected for the KZN Inland U17 team but most disappointingly he picked up a finger injury while attending a Cricket South Africa U17 camp in Pretoria, which is now keeping him out of cricket and all sport until the end of January 2011.

Bechet picks up the pace: “On Maritzburg College’s UK tour this year he bowled some 69 overs and took 22 wickets at 12.90 and at a strike rate of 19 [deliveries per wicket] with an economy rate of 4.09.

“He has picked up a finger injury just when the time was ripe for him to kick on after the UK tour and Michaelmas Week into the fourth term. From the Cricket South Africa Pro20 regional competition and thereafter the Franchise finals and until the start of the fourth term this year, he has bowled 93.3 overs, eight maidens and taken 26 wickets for 373 runs.

“This is at an average of 14.40 per wicket and at a strike rate of 21.60 balls per wicket, which for an U16 boy is quite phenomenal.”

Bechet is not one to give praise easily, particularly when it comes to the Maritzburg College boys under his tutelage, so this is praise indeed.

But who really is Daryn Dupavillon the person? Is he the aggressive, take no prisoners type of fast bowler who gives the impression that he loves nothing more than hitting a batsman on the helmet, perhaps like Aussie “Merv the Swerve” Hughes might be seen, or is he more the thinking type of bowler who outwits the batter with a combination of stealth and guile – more of an Allan “White Lightning” Donald, maybe?

A look at his opinions, personality and path up the cricket ladder suggest he is probably a combination of all these personae.

For one, the young man who was born in Durban on 15 July 1994 is a great admirer of all-time great Oz opening bowler Glen McGrath.

“I read his book, and he came from nowhere,” says the grade 10, Hudson House boarder.

“Glen McGrath believed that hard work, and practising every day would get him to the top – and it did.

“McGrath had a tough road to the top; when he arrived in Sydney he had no money, used to survive on Mars bars. I admire his self-confidence, the belief that if he persevered he would make it.”

Dupavillon also has huge admiration for how McGrath supported his wife in her battle with cancer, putting his family above cricket.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the only child of Debbie and Dereck acknowledges his parents as the biggest influence on his life.

“My Parents drive three hours every weekend from Empangeni [in Zululand] to watch my games and always support me with all my decisions in life,” he says.

And adds with an impish grin: “I think my sporting talent is in the genes as I grew up on the side of the field watching my Dad, who was a fast bowler. My Mom was a good hockey player and athlete, too.”

Little wonder, then that the KZN Inland U16 hockey player was the College age group Victor Ludorum this year at his first [relatively] serious attempt at athletics, winning the 100m, 400m, triple jump and high jump, with a third in the long jump. “Something like that,” he says.

Fast bowlers are almost always natural athletes and it is not altogether a mystery why the boy who made the strong College first XI whilst in grade nine admires the Proteas’ champion strike bowler Dale Steyn.

“His speed and skill, his ability to maintain that speed for long periods is something to look up to,” Dupavillon says.

Yet for all the admiration Dupavillon expresses for the likes of Steyn, McGrath and that other useful cricketer from his neck of the woods, Lance Klusener, this is a well-rounded, centred young man who is happy in his own skin.

To the question, “If you could be anybody in the world, who would it be?” his answer is immediate and to the point.

“I am thankful for how the Lord made me, so I am happy to be me.”

Is he religious? It’s another answer that suggests a person with a quiet inner strength.

“I am a Christian but it’s more a deeply held personal thing than the going-to-church type of thing; it’s what instils in me a strong sense of self-belief.”

And that sense of self-belief and inner steel is holding Dupavillon together right now in what has been a trying time for him – that most feared predicament of any serious sportsman, having to sit out injured while all the action and drama is being played out by everybody else but oneself.

“I injured my finger at the four-day national U17 camp under South Africa U19 head coach Ray Jennings at the Tukkies High Performance Centre in Pretoria in the first week of October,” he says.

“On the third day we were doing fielding drills and I went to take a catch over my shoulder. The ball hit me on my right index finger, rupturing a tendon.

“The medical diagnosis is that I can’t play competitively for 14 weeks and my finger is in a splint during that time, so I will only be back on the field at the end of January.”

Dupavillon says watching the powerful Maritzburg College first XI from the sidelines during the fourth term has been “incredibly frustrating”.

“It also meant that I missed out on the KZN Inland school trials and the opportunity to play for Inland at one of the National Cricket Weeks.”

The lad from Empangeni can at least console himself with the thought that few fine sportsmen or women go through their careers without picking up a serious injury at one point or another. One only has to look at Sachin Tendulkar’s tennis elbow problems and even further back among those who know their cricket history, the three years spent out of the game with a stress fracture of the back of my personal favourite player – the all-time great Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee.

Yet they have all come back stronger for the experience and with a newfound appreciation for the fleeting window period when the young and fit can exploit their talents to the full.

Dupavillon will no doubt bounce back with a vengeance next year and the best top-order schoolboy batters around the country had better prepare themselves for a merciless test of their abilities against sustained, high quality fast bowling.

As he says, “Once if am fit again I plan on making my comeback at full tilt with all cylinders firing, but first I will be working hard to make my way back into the Maritzburg College first XI.”

Apart from watching his Dad and picking up tips from the boundary ropes while at the same time playing those pick-up games around the periphery of the field so beloved by pre-teen boys, the younger Dupavillon’s more formal cricketing education came from a couple of dedicated primary school coaches at his prep school up the KZN north coast, Grantleigh.

“The first cricket coach I had was Mr Fred Grant at Grantleigh, who drilled the basics into us at a young age, including etiquette and sportsmanship, and I still value the interest he shows in my cricketing progress to date. Mr Garth Bishop at Grantleigh, who spent hours of one-on-one sessions with me developing my bowling and batting, has also been a big influence – to this day I still remember my first hard-ball match in grade three, my last game as a nine year old for my school team at Grantleigh.”

And Mike Bechet at Maritzburg College has picked up the baton from his teaching colleagues at Grantleigh.

“Since moving into the College first XI in grade nine as the youngster of the team, Mr Bechet’s coaching took my cricket to new heights as he has helped develop me in every aspect of my game.

“And the lessons Mr Bechet teaches us on and off the field are the most valuable life lessons one needs. I have him to thank for giving me the opportunity to play at top schools’ level and it is an opportunity I would like to think I took with both hands.”

As to the question, does Dupavillon enjoy playing for College and why, his answer is immediate.

“Maritzburg College is one of the top cricketing schools in the country and I am privileged to be playing at the highest level in such an institution. College has afforded me wonderful opportunities to play against many other top schools from all over South Africa at different cricket festivals. For example, there’s the Maritzburg College Week that takes place early in January, the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Week just before the fourth terms begins, the St David’s 20/20 Festival in the fourth term and who can forget the Standard Bank Schools’ Pro20 competition to name just a few – and, of course, the 2010 highlight was the Maritzburg College first XI cricket tour to the UK, where we played some of the top English schools and came home with a clean sheet of played 15 won 15.

“The College first XI squad has an amazing vibe, which contributes positively towards our success.”

And as to why he enjoys being a boarder and a scholar at Maritzburg College, Dupavillon says without hesitation: “The traditions, which date back almost 150 years, the number of boys who pass through so well in the academic sense every year, the great sports facilities and the fact that College has always been one of the most dominant sports schools in the country in many different sporting codes.

“One only has to witness the passion and pride that College Old Boys have in their school to know that it is a great school. The Red, Black and White rules!”

Given his progress to date, it is not altogether startling news that Dupavillon plans to one day take the big step forward in realising every aspiring young South African cricketer’s dream – playing for the Proteas.

“My dream is to play for the Dolphins franchise one day and my lifelong goal is to play for the Proteas. As a schoolboy, it is my goal to make the SA Schools’ team and hopefully the South Africa U19 side that goes to the ICC U19 World Cup in 2012.”

Is he hoping to get a cricket bursary? “I would like to get into the cricket programme at Tuks, which is a year-long programme, so it would help to get a bursary to the High Performance Centre at Tuks.

“I would love to further my studies at Tukkies in Pretoria, where I’d play cricket through the university, but I am also hoping to get into the Dolphins Academy after school, so that would obviously change my plans.”
Like many young people, a specialised field of study has not been determined as yet; suffice to say that something along the lines of a Bachelor of Commerce degree appears to be the intended route.

“I am still young, so study-wise I am not sure what I want yet, but as far as an occupation is concerned, it has been my lifelong goal to make a living playing the game I love most, cricket.

“Other work I’m not too sure about yet, but it would have to be something where I can spend the majority of time outdoors as I can’t see myself working in an office one day.”

“Still, my philosophy is that a dream without a plan is nothing but a wish, so we’ll see.”

Like many talented young players, a kit sponsorship would come in handy – not least, one can’t help thinking, as far as keeping his Mom and Dad’s bank balance in a healthy state, what with the jaw-dropping prices of halfway decent bats these days.

“I am not sponsored by any brand and I don’t play to get one, as I play for the love of the game, but in saying that I wouldn’t mind a sponsorship as the cost of good kit is very high.

“Right now I use Adidas Spikes and Gray Nicholls batting equipment.”
And while his cricketing goals are clear, this is not a boy with tunnel vision.

“During the holidays I enjoy playing golf and have a great rivalry going with my father,” he says with a grin. Other sporting hobbies and interests include fishing and skim boarding, while in the favourite singer category the names LFO and John Mayer come to the fore, with the former’s Every Other Time winning the favourite song vote by a distance.

In his downtime you can’t go wrong by taking him out for ribs and chips and hiring his favourite movie, Step Brothers.

Any aspiring girlfriends must remember this one, though, don’t invite him out for a romantic visit to the Eiffel Tower.

“One of my pet hates is heights, although I did take a step forward in conquering this by going up in the London Eye and peering over the edge of the White Cliffs of Dover on our UK cricket tour,” this thoroughly likeable young man adds.

And one can’t help thinking that this is a brave young man not intimidated in the slightest at the prospect of scaling the heights of the game he loves.