For a young man who never grew up watching too much cricket and had no aspirations of playing the game professionally despite representing Border in the youth ranks, Onke Nyaku is carving out his own path in South African cricket.
Next up for the hugely talented all-rounder is a move to the Cape Cobras ahead of the 2020/21 season.
Born in Umtata, Nyaku grew up in East London and matriculated from Selborne College in 2012 before making the move to Port Elizabeth to study at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. It was there that he was snapped up by the Eastern Province Academy, did the hard yards in semi-professional cricket for a few years, before he was rewarded with his franchise debut for the Warriors against his current employers the World Sports Betting Cape Cobras in the Momentum One Day Cup in 2019.
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Nyaku played 11 Varsity Cricket matches in 2016 (alongside national player Anrich Nortje) and 2017.
His career has been on an upward curve ever since, representing the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants in the Mzansi Super League in 2019 and the now 25-year-old is looking forward to the challenge in Cape Town, noting resemblances with his new coach Ashwell Prince as a big factor as to why he accepted the offer to join the Cape franchise.
“The move to Cape Town was really a no-brainer for me. The ability to work with a former Proteas cricketer in Ashwell Prince, someone who’s played a long time for the Proteas in a batting position I’d like to bat at, can only benefit my game. The City, and being able to call the iconic stadium of Newlands my home ground, was also a big plus,” the 25-year-old said.
Whilst his ability as an all-rounder in the traditional sense is there for all to see, his agility and skills as a fielder make him the complete package in the mold of a certain England cricketer who Nyaku admires.
“I naturally like being out on the field. I didn’t really watch much cricket growing up, but I’d say I’m trying to model my cricket around someone like Ben Stokes.”
A cricketer in the mould of Ben Stokes is a captain’s dream and that’s precisely what Nyaku is looking to offer his Cobras captain and coach in both formats of the game.
“My role in red-ball cricket doesn’t really change much from white-ball cricket. I want to be able to score as many runs with the bat in the middle and end for the team and to bowl with accuracy and control while striking and getting the so called ‘big players’ of the opposition team out.”
This penchant for picking up the big fish in the opposition team will no doubt be a huge asset as he sets his sight on one day representing the Proteas, but he is under no illusions that it starts with delivering match-winning performances for his new franchise.
“I’d love to play for the Proteas, but in order to do so, I’ll have to give more than 100% for the Cobras to achieve that, something I’m really looking forward to kick-starting very soon,” Nyaku concluded.
PLAYER PROFILE Onke Nyaku
Full name: Onke Nyaku
Born: 26/9/1994 in Umtata (now Mthatha)
Playing style: Right-hand batsman, Right-arm medium-fast bowler
Major teams: Eastern Province (2014-19), Warriors (2019-20), Nelson Mandela Bay Giants (2019), Cape Cobras (2020-)
Article courtesy Cape Cobras Media