CAPE TOWN – For a school cricketer, sometimes the difference between being selected for higher honours is the difference between good and bad quality cricket gear. It is this disparity Cricket South Africa and cricket gear supplier New Balance are trying to address.“Sometimes you get a kid who plays a shot and it goes for one run because he has a poor-quality bat, but another will play the same shot and hit the ball for six. It’s the same shot. They have the same talent, but the outcome is different and more often than not, only one of them will be selected,” said Clive Eksteen, head of sales and sponsor relations for Cricket South Africa (CSA) at a kit handover event in Cape Town on Tuesday.Young cricketers from disadvantaged backgrounds were presented with a full set of equipment and footwear at a function at Newlands Cricket Stadium, as part of the partnership between CSA and New Balance to change lives both on and off the cricket field.The grateful recipients are products of CSA’s community hubs and Standard Bank Regional Performance Centres (RPC) with many of the participants going on to represent their provinces and in some cases the national select XIs.“We are in the business of changing lives,” commented CSA Acting Cricket Pathways Manager Eddie Khoza. “Players must not be denied the opportunity to play for the Proteas through their socio-economic circumstances and to live better lives.“We are already seeing the impact at senior schools level where Siya Plaatjie, Justin Gilliland and Bonga Makaka all represented official national teams chosen at the end of last year’s Coca-Cola Khaya Majola under-19 week, having coming through our RPC structures,” said Khoza.“Today shows why we get up to go to work every single day. It is beyond special for me. To the boys and girls, you make me proud. We’re happy to be here for you. I wish nothing but the best for you. One day I want to see you swap out those school blazers for a blazer in green and gold, and we can all say we were here to witness the start of it, so well done to you,” said Kugandrie Govender, CSA’s chief commercial officer.New Balance has been an apparel sponsor of the Proteas since 2015, the first such deal with an international cricket team.“Our partnership has blossomed over the years through this healthy engagement with CSA,” commented Craig Bowen, New Balance Country Manager. “It is both exciting and rewarding to be part of this partnership and it is a cornerstone of our business to invest back into communities at grassroots level. We want to be part of the future of the game in the country and, if we can alleviate one small obstacle by providing this kit, we are very happy to do so.”