STIAAN VAN ZYL
Full name Stiaan van Zyl
Born September 19, 1987, Cape Town
Current age 27 years
Major teams South Africa, Boland, Cape Cobras, South Africa A, Western Province
Batting style Left-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
A left-hander with a classic cover drive, Stiaan van Zyl was not always an elegant top-order batsman. At primary school, he fancied himself as a quick bowler but later chose batting over a bucolic life in the Boland, where he was educated at the rugby-mad agricultural high school, Boland Landbou. He made his first-class debut at 19.
Van Zyl averaged over 50 for the Cobras in the summer of 2007-08 but it was not until two seasons later that he arrived in the top-ten run-scorers in the first-class game. In 2009-10, van Zyl was sixth with an average of 58.00 and was rewarded with a call-up to the South African A side to tour Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. By then, he had also developed as a handy medium pacer.
He remained a regular in the national reserves but it was not until the 2012-13 season, when he finished second on the domestic competition run-scorers' list, that he was spoken of a possibility for the senior side. With a batting line-up that included top-order heavyweights like Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla, it became difficult for van Zyl to get a look in.
But both Smith and Kallis retired in the summer of 2013-14 and van Zyl topped the run-charts, which made him possible to ignore. He traveled with the Test squad to Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe in the winter of 2014 but did not get a game. He was also included in South Africa's squad to play West Indies at home later that year.