Little wonder then that, for all his talent, it took Tony de Zorzi a little while to find his feet at the Multiply Titans. But it all clicked for the former national U19 captain last weekend in Kimberley as he stroked his way to a great century against the Knights, hopefully a breakthrough knock for the youngster.
The ability was easy to see but, perhaps more importantly, so was the determination to make a big play for his team; the mental strength and hunger for runs he showed in his 103 off 128 balls, opening the batting, was just as important as his free scoring style.
“I struggled with the expectations initially, especially those I put on myself because I really wanted to prove others right for backing me. You have one or two bad knocks and then the low scores start piling up, which leads to a negative mindset.
“You score a few U19 runs and it all gets blown up into these massive expectations. But you actually don’t know much about the game, you’re just out of school cricket!” De Zorzi says of his experiences after making his Titans debut at the age of 19-and-a-half at the end of last season.
A product of King Edward VII high school, De Zorzi left Gauteng at the end of his schooling to come to the outstanding Tuks cricket programme at the University of Pretoria, and having two former Test cricketers as his coaches – Mark Boucher at franchise level and Kruger van Wyk at his club – has helped him to settle relatively quickly.
“I’ve been working closely with both of them in recent months, and I feel a lot more comfortable at the crease. They’ve helped me to just be more positive in my mindset, it’s not even about scoring runs necessarily. The time away from the Titans, after being dropped, allowed me to go and work on that,” says De Zorzi.
Now seven months away from his 21st birthday, De Zorzi has also gone back to how he used to bat and was able to pull it all together in Kimberley. It seems to almost be a case of being able to convince himself that he is in form and he belongs.
“I had a trigger movement at first when I came to Pretoria which I stopped, but now I’ve gone back to that. I decided to change after I was in Durban for Northerns a couple of weeks ago and I struggled to get runs. But it seems to be working now and all the work is definitely coming together.
“My coaches told me that when you’re in a tough space, you need to work your way out of it. You must stop thinking you’re going to mess up, behave like you’re meant to be there even if that means puffing out your chest or something,” he said.
The former KES 1st XV flyhalf and aspirant golfer is now going to be working hard on his consistency and becoming a regular in the Titans line-up.
“My first goal now is to earn my spot continuously in a Titans team that has done really well and I would like to be a big part of that. My favourite position is number four, but we are blessed with a lot of middle-order batsmen so I’m happy to play in the top-order.
“Everyone is different, guys like Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock and Wayne Parnell got there quickly from the U19s, but for myself my growth path may be different. Speaking to guys like Henry Davids and Heino Kuhn, they warned about people expecting things to happen a lot quicker these days,” De Zorzi said.
Hopefully, however, now that he knows he can succeed at franchise level, the success will just gain momentum for De Zorzi.