IF you have ever seen him loft a six with the sweetest of timing into the Kent Pavilion rafters or get the first XV backline away with an economy of movement and technically perfect distribution, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
Feature image: Practice makes perfect. No-one works harder at his game than Maritzburg College first XI cricketer Jacques van der Walt.
Maritzburg College first XI’s elegant left-hander, and first XV’s classic flyhalf is the soon-to-be-finished grade 11 student Jacques van der Walt.
KZN10.com decided to take a closer look.
So Jacques how old are you, where were you born, who’re your siblings, what do they do and where are they now?
“Thanks for your interest in me Sir; that’s quite a bit to answer from one question!
“I’m 17 years old and was born on 15 January, 2001 at St Anne’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.
“I am the youngest of 3 siblings; my brother’s name is Chase, age 27, and my sister’s name is Tayla; she is 24.
“Chase is in China teaching English and Tayla is in America working as an au pair. They are both qualified teachers.”
‘My sister Tayla stood behind the rugby posts
playing “ball-girl” while I practised my place-kicking’
Jacques, I have watched you play cricket and rugby many times, so why your love of cricket and rugby, how old were you when you started, who was it initially who taught you cricket and rugby, and was it in the backyard or where?
“My first memories are being on the side of a rugby or cricket field almost every weekend watching my brother, Chase.
“He was my hero and would always take the time to play with me and allow me to play with him and his friends in the garden at home.
“My first official private cricket coach was Mr Rob Fuhri, from about the age of 5 till I started high school at Maritzburg College.”
So who have been some of the major influences in your life, on the making of Jacques van der Walt, the sportsman, in your upbringing?
‘One of my greatest moments was when
I played my first club cricket match with my brother’
“My brother, Chase, is my best friend and biggest supporter and has kept me grounded.
“Chase spent hours with me in the garden, the nets and on the fields helping develop my cricket and rugby skills.
“One of my greatest moments was when I played my first club cricket match with my brother.
“My sister, Tayla, has always been there for emotional support and has always had my back.
“On numerous occasions she has stood behind the rugby posts playing ‘ball-girl’ while I practised my place-kicking.”
Jono: You were at Cordwalles Prep School, what did your time there teach you in terms of values etc. and what teams did you play for in grade 7 both for Cordwalles and provincial?
“Cordwalles introduced me to the various sports and cultural activities, which enabled me to explore which sporting and cultural activities I preferred.
“Cordwalles taught me the value of true friendship, loyalty and respect.
“I played 1st team cricket, which I captained, and 1st team rugby for Cordwalles.
“I was the Victor Ludorum for swimming, made the U13 midlands rugby team and the KZN Inland cricket team, which I captained.”
Jono: On to high school, why Maritzburg College?
What as a grade 7 or earlier attracted you to the Red Black and White?
Was it for example the emotional pull when you watched your first rugby match on Goldstones, did you decide then and then, “One day I want to be there!”
‘There was never another school for me’
Jacques: “At the age of 3, I had my own Maritzburg College rugby jersey, which I wore every Saturday when I went to support my brother playing either rugby or cricket for Maritzburg College.
“My first real memories are from about 5 years old, playing rugby with my friends behind the stands on Goldstones until the 1st team were getting ready to run through Nicolson’s Arch.
“It was my dream that one day I would be running on to Goldstones with all the boys shouting and cheering me on.
“There was never another school for me. I have been so blessed and privileged to have realised my dream.
“First I had the honour of making my first XV debut in the Red Black and White, and then representing the College 1st XV this year – and running under Nicholson’s Arch.”
For those of you (possibly very few) who wonder who the arch is named after, it was erected in honour of one of Durban High School’s many exceptional Old Boys, Mr J.M. “Skonk” Nicholson.
Skonk, the Maritzburg College geography teacher, deputy headmaster and without-peer Maritzburg College first XV coach, a gentleman who conducted himself with such grace and understated distinction.
Jono: So Jacques, what is special about Maritzburg College? Why is there such a strong bond – the mass gathering of school friends on Old Boys Reunion Weekend?
The Jacques answer is immediate: “The sense of brotherhood that bonds us together for life.”
Jono: Jacques, please tell us about the teams you’ve played for provincially and any teams from your Cordwalles Prep grade 7 year up to now that you’ve captained?
“In cricket, Cordwalles 1st team captain, KZN Inland U13 captain, Maritzburg College U14A captain and U15A captain; KZN Inland U15 captain, Maritzburg College U16A captain, 1st XI, and now the KZN Inland U17 team.”
JACQUES’ 2018 FIRST XI BATTING STATS
Not out 6
Aggregate runs 870
Strike rate approximately 70 per 100 balls faced
“In rugby I played Cordwalles 1st team, Midlands u13, Maritzburg College U14A vice-captain, U15A captain, U16A vice-captain, Sharks U16 at Grant Khomo Week, and the Maritzburg College 1st XV this year.
Well, that makes for an incredibly taxing number of school years, not to mention the time spent on academics.
Jono: Jacques it has been a pleasure talking to you. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“I would like to say thank you to all my coaches through the years for believing in me and teaching me the real value of playing sport.
“Thank you, too, Mr Cook, for your continued support and all you do for schoolboy sport in KZN.
“Finally, to my Mom and Dad: You have had a great influence on my life, you have supported me through thick and thin and I can always confide in you and count on you.
“You are on the side of the field supporting me in every match I have played in since junior school.
“I could not ask for more. Thank you Mom and Dad.”
Jono: Phew, I confess to misty eyes right now. Special words those, Jacques.
Best wishes for the December 10 to 14 National U17 Cricket Week, which is headquartered at Kearsney College.
See you there.