Kwena Maphaka
Kwena Maphaka named player of the tournament after a briliant ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. Image: ICC

Home » Kevin Pietersen backs Kwena Maphaka

Kevin Pietersen backs Kwena Maphaka

Kevin Pietersen has come out to defend Kwena Maphaka following criticism after the young South African cricketer made his IPL debut.

28-03-24 13:16
Kwena Maphaka
Kwena Maphaka named player of the tournament after a briliant ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. Image: ICC

Kwena Maphaka made a name for himself at the 15th edition of ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup, with the teenager’s stunning display of attacking bowling sending cricket lovers into a frenzy about the potential of a future star.

The talent of the 17-year-old was also quickly recognised by powerhouse T20 side, the Mumbai Indians, who recruited him straight into their Indian Premier League (IPL) squad.

Maphaka was initially expected to serve primarily as a back-up bowler, but after clearly impressing the coaches, he was handed his IPL debut against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, his debut didn’t going according to plan as he conceded a whopping 66 runs from his four overs. That return left him with the unwanted record of becoming the foreign player who had conceded the most runs in an IPL innings. It was also the most expensive spell by a debutant in an IPL match. 

It sparked a rather insensitive tweet from his cricketing idol, Proteas legend Dale Steyn, who commented: “Maphaka realizing the difference between U19 and the PRO league. Baptism of fire.”


However, South Africa-born cricket legend Kevin Pietersen, who turned out to be an iconic player for England, quickly came out in support of the Kwena Maphaka.

“I hope Kwena Maphaka wakes up this morning extremely proud of what he achieved last night,” he tweeted. “There are many seasoned international campaigners that try their level best to get picked up in an IP auction and just at the age of 17, yes 17, he made is debut as a foreign player. Forget your figures and love what you achieved. You go, buddy!”

Other IPL veterans such as Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard also voiced their support for the youngster.

“Keep your head up Champ! Kwena Maphaka I’m sure you will definitely bounce back and don’t let this one-off game make you start to doubt yourself, it’s a great challenge for you and you will only get better as the tournament goes on!” Bravo said in a post he uploaded to Instagram.

Meanwhile, Pollard added: “Head up young man, you have greater things to achieve. I’m sure your family, friends loved ones are very proud of you. tough first day at the office but loved how you kept coming.”


Maphaka maintains that his best quality is aggression – something Proteas superstar Kagiso Rabada has become world-renowned for.

Rabada and Maphaka came through the same school, St Stithians, and the duo possess very similar attributes.

“It [aggression] is something that comes very naturally for me,” stated Maphaka last year. “I am a very competitive person at heart. I think it’s my biggest attribute. But to be compared with someone like KG [Rabada] is humbling. 

“KG is an inspiration to a lot of people in South Africa and outside, just the way he’s gone about his cricket, the work he has done from such a young age. It’s something I am trying to take on board.”