‘Constant improvement’ keeps cricketer moving forward

Keanan Mitchell, from Strandfontein, has come a long way to winning his first mini-cricket medal in 2001, to win leagues with Strandfontein Cricket Club, Avendale Cricket Club and District Sixers in recent seasons. He shares his journey. Picture: Lonwabo Marele

Over the years, the community of Strandfontein has produced some of the finest sporting talents, in particular in cricket.

Avendale Cricket Club’s player-coach, Keanan Mitchell, is one of the diamonds in the rough that come from Strandfontein.

“I started playing cricket down the road for Strandfontein Primary School. My journey has been very nice so far, lots of ups and lots of downs, but mostly success.”

Keanan Mitchell in his Avendale Cricket Club’s colours.

Mitchell is a part of the JP21 Foundation that enables more children to come through the ranks from amateur to professional athletes.

Mitchell said they work with more than a thousand children a day from all over the city. During the school holidays, earlier this month, they had a special programme for youngsters from Strandfontein.

“I currently work with the JP21 Foundation. We inspire a lot of kids, there are about 1 000 kids a day. During the school holidays we worked with 100 kids who we identified as top cricketers in Strandfontein.

“I think it is the impact and the change we make in the lives of the kids. On a daily basis when they come running to you, you know if you can change one person’s life it will be them. It is worth waking up in the morning for,” he said.

With the challenges and successes of being a cricketer and mentor to many of the developing players, it is also crucial for Mitchell to remain intact with the end goal. He has mentors of his own who help him to stay sharp.

“I have two good mentors in Jermaine Cloete and JP Duminy. I have had the privilege of being with the Paarl Rocks and Paarl Royals for the past season, learning my trades, as well. Within this industry there are a lot of guys coming up the ranks, so we need to keep pushing ourselves forward,” he said.

Keanan Mitchell spinning a cricket ball in Strandfontein.

Mitchell’s journey started in 1998 at Strandfontein Primary School. He won his first medal in mini cricket in 2001. He has played for Western Province Cricket Club, won leagues with Strandfontein Cricket Club and Avendale Cricket Club.

The team from Athlone finished fourth this year, a couple of points shy from promotion into the premier league.

He has also worked with Somerset West’s women’s cricket team — where they finished third in the league.

“Cricket is a tough journey, but, like I said, the hard work ends up paying off at the end of the day. Grab any opportunity you do get to showcase your talent, someone will be watching – it is a matter of the right time and the right place. Keep playing the game, do what you do, never look back and keep going forward,” said Mitchell.

He is currently the assistant coach for the District Sixers seniors and the head coach for the under-15 and under-17 teams.

With the hockey season in full swing, Mitchell has turned his attention on to the astro-turf to stay fit until the cricket season returns.

Avendale Cricket Club’s player-coach, Keanan Mitchell, from Strandfontein. Pictures: Lonwabo Marele