UFH - Cricket - Nqaba Peter

There was an inevitability about Nqaba Peter making an immediate impact on his international debut with the Proteas.

The 21-year-old only graduated from the University of Fort Hare-Cricket South Africa Academy last year but the past 12 months have seen him become one of the most dangerous spinners on the domestic circuit.

He is the first men’s player from the Academy to represent his country at T20 international level. Before him, graduates Jerry Nqolo and Somila Seyibokwe donned the green and gold at the Hong Kong Sixes in 2017.

Peter was a key player for the Eastern Cape’s Iinyathi before joining the DP World Lions, one of the country’s biggest franchises and home to the likes of Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen and Kagiso Rabada.

In the recent T20 Challenge he ended up as the third-highest wicket-taker, bamboozling the country’s leading batsmen with his fast-paced leg and top-spinners.

Hauls of 4/18 against the Titans, 3/22 against North West and an incredible 4/7 against Western Province announced his arrival in emphatic style.

He might well have believed that having his high-performance contract with the Lions upgraded to a two-year professional one for the 2024/25 season would’ve been the cherry that topped his breakout season.

It was not.

UFH - Cricket - Nqaba Peter

UFH-CSA Academy graduate Nqaba Peter recently made his debut for the Proteas senior men’s side against the West Indies in the Caribbean. Photo: DP World Lions

With many of the Proteas’ stars not playing in the recent T20 series against the West Indies in the Caribbean, the national selectors decided there was no time like the present to introduce Peter to the world.

And what an introduction it proved to be.

Making his debut in the second match in Kingston on May 25, he picked up the wickets of West Indies skipper Brandon King and Kyle Mayers.

In his second outing, his guile accounted for Johnson Charles who had been in fine form throughout the three-match series, which unfortunately saw South Africa being whitewashed by the home side.

Regardless of the result, Peter’s name is now up in lights.

While the Proteas squad for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and United States are already set in stone, he will surely come into the reckoning if there are any injuries during the tournament.

While UFH-CSA Academy coach Burton de Wett was not surprised by Peter’s rise, he was amazed by how quickly it happened.

It was in fact De Wett who took a group of “net bowlers” from the Academy to bowl to the Proteas and the West Indies as they prepared for their match in East London last year.

It was there that Peter’s talents were first noticed by cricket’s biggest stars.

“It’s crazy to think he was here [at the Academy] this time last year. I am very proud of him,” De Wett said.

He recalled how Proteas Bavuma and Quinton de Kock as well as the West Indies batsmen had been impressed the first time they faced Peter in the nets.

“They were like, ‘Who is this guy? He is a special talent.’. That’s when the franchises from around the country started taking an interest.”

De Wett even told the group prior to their departure for East London that they should not take their opportunity to bowl to world-class players lightly.

“But I had no idea it would get so big [for Peter]. I knew things would happen, but I didn’t realise it would happen so fast.”

De Wett has sent his former charge messages of congratulations on his debut and performances with the Proteas. He said he responded, “Thanks coachy”.

“He’s obviously a very busy guy now,” he quipped.

The coach said it was now all but guaranteed that teams from the biggest T20 leagues in the world – including the Caribbean Premier League – would target his signature.

He also expected him to go for “big money” in next season’s SA20, where he made his debut for the Paarl Royals a few months ago.

“He is a hard worker, a really focused cricketer. I’m chuffed for him,” De Wett said.