Northerns Coach Mark Charlton describes the newly signed Multiply Titan Eldred Hawken as the best fast bowler in the recently completed Sunfoil Three-Day Cup campaign.
Armed with pace and swing, the 28-year-old dismissed 38 batsmen at an average of 19.55 and a strike-rate of 40.2.
And that is because of the skills which Charlton highlights as traits of the best express bowler in the semi-professional competition – swings both ways through the air, nip off the seam and enough pace to leave top-order batsman looking distinctly ordinary.
Hailing from Tzaneen, Hawken comes from a cricketing background. His father, David Hawken, was president of the Limpopo Cricket Union. He spent two years at SEE cricket academy, having also represented Pretoria High School Old Boys as a club cricketer.
Plagued by a back injury in 2013, the right-armer was left on the sidelines for an extended period.
“My back was just not strong enough so I had some rehabilitation and strengthening work under the watchful guidance of Dickie Kruger and Russell Clarke,” said Hawken.
Yet, he made his presence felt during his debut Sunfoil Series campaign in 2015/16, in which he produced 3-47 and a best match-haul of 5-81. The Multiply Titans went on to win the four-day competition.
If you watch Hawken closely, you are struck by his approach. It is almost as if the pitch is a giant chess board and the Queen and King are under constant threat when Hawken is in full flow.
Making his Momentum One Day Cup debut earlier this year in February against the bizhub Highveld Lions, Hawken left the opposing batsmen feeling frustrated and deflated after capturing 3-40 in the 109-run win.
“My speed has never worried me. It if bothers other teams and I can see top-order batsmen are slightly rushed, that is quick enough,” he said.
And don’t be misled by the answer. He is quick enough to be bracketed in the fast bowling category – pushing it up to 141 or 142 km/h.
In terms of his temperament, Hawken is not the proverbial white-line-fever type of bowler or a choleric persona who is always one sentence away from a fiery argument.
“I just try and let my skill do the talking. I don’t talk to batsmen. If I get in the right area enough times, it will be enough. If I deliberately try and get into batsmen’s faces, it might take me out of my zone,” he adds.
Hawken is extremely excited about the season ahead. He says a good off-season with meticulous attention to his training, his back and his glute, will be important to prepare him for the 2017/18 season.
The spearhead says he won’t attempt to complete his degree in environmental management upon his retirement, but rather head back to Tzaneen, to work on his family's subtropical farm
Cricket is his life now, and when given opportunities, Hawken can make the life of very good batsmen miserable. He can swing it both ways, and his excellent seam presentation enables him to beat the bat more than most domestic bowlers.