Kearsley has pulled off a coup with the signing of South African star Jono Bird for their 2023 Bolton League campaign.

Bird is a superstar in the making currently playing for Western Province in South African domestic cricket.

A schoolboy prodigy, Bird represented the South African Under-19s in 22 matches (1 Test, 22 ODI’s). As a 17-year-old, Bird struck 51 (47 balls) on his SA U19 debut against England (July 2018), then followed up with an unbeaten 142* (123) in the second match to chase down victory.

A year later, he was the leading run-scorer in the 7-ODI series against Pakistan hitting 356 runs at 59.33 including scores of 75 (75), 100 (95), and 112 (106) in succession. A match-winning 88* (121) in the third ODI against India preceded the Quadrangular U19 Series (Dec 2019), ending his campaign with 39 (31) in the final against victors, India. In January 2020, he represented the host nation in the ICC Under-19 World Cup where he struck 179 runs at 29.83, all with a strike rate of 101.12.

Bird concluded his South Africa Under-19 ODI career with 935 runs at 49.21 (S/R: 91.21) with 3 hundreds and 4 fifties, culminating with a Cape Cobras Rookie Franchise contract and a nomination for SA U19 Cricketer of the Year in 2020. He was subsequently drafted into the CSA Men’s National Academy during the same year. Bird was then part of CSA’s Emerging Squad to tour Namibia in April 2021.

Prior to this, Bird had already enjoyed a headlining transition into professional cricket. Following his century against England Under-19s, he was selected to make his Western Province debut in the CSA Provincial 50-Over Challenge in October 2018. Bird rewrote the record books, hitting a List A century (104 from 102 balls against Easterns) to become the youngest debutant centurion in South African history.

A few months later (Jan 2019), he made his first-class debut for WP in the Provincial 3-Day Cup, hitting scores of 42, and 16. In November 2020, he earned his Franchise call-up, playing against the Titans in the Four Day Franchise Series, hitting 22, and 47. Bird would then score 47 (50) on his Momentum One Day Cup debut for the Cobras and finish the 2019/20 campaign with an average of 27.83, before averaging 44.50 during the following 2020/21 List A season.

Roll on the 2021/22 season and Bird would go on to strike 330 first-class runs at 110 with hundreds against Gauteng (152*) and North West (126*), followed by a List A ton against the latter (116) to round off another barnstorming season.

Bird, who remains with the SA National Academy, has high hopes of making the Proteas side in future. He is eager to make a huge impact in domestic cricket next summer to help further his claims.

Whilst known as a strong, hard-hitting left-handed batter, Bird is a very useful left-arm wrist spinner and is looking to become a bowling regular next season. He is looking to cement his spot across all formats this season, and thereafter, play cricket abroad as part of his ongoing development.

Bird is looking forward to his season in England where he hopes the invaluable experience will stand him in good stead for reaching national honours in future.

He is set to play for Kearsley in the strong Bolton League for the 2023 season, where we expect he’ll excel.