Saint Charles’ old boy SJ (Sarel) Erwee has been one of the most successful and consistent Dolphins’ batsmen of recent seasons, bringing stability and runs to the top of the order, and performing well in all forms of the game. KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan caught up with him to talk about how his former school had helped develop his love for the game and about how he became a success at franchise level.
His home language was Afrikaans, so he attended Piet Retief in Pietermaritzburg until the end of grade three, before switching to Pelham from his grade four year on. During his time at Pelham, while playing in Midlands’ cricket trials at Saint Charles, he scored 60, an innings that was witnessed by two Saint Charles’ matric boys, Glenn Addicott and Brad Moses, both of whom would go on to play for the Dolphins.
Afterwards, they asked him which school he was planning to attend for high school. His initial thoughts had been Maritzburg College, but, he admitted, he was not about to tell the two Saint Charles’ boys that. They told him they would help make sure he moved to the school. Then, when he thought about it, as an Afrikaans boy, Saint Charles began to make a lot of sense.
He explained: “I think, as an Afrikaans boy going into an English school, you’re looking for a bit more one-on-one help, in case you’re battling with school work when it’s your first time in an English class. Saint Charles had small classes, maximum of 20 in a class, so you got individual attention if you needed help. That was what drew me toward the school, knowing I would survive in an English environment as an Afrikaans boy.”
Also, the two matric boys had made a very favourable impression on young SJ: “Having matrics caring for youngsters and wanting them at their school, that was quite special as well,” he said.
SJ’s dad, Sarel, had enjoyed a successful career as a provincial rugby player, and it was his favourite sport, but when SJ said he wished to concentrate on cricket, his dad backed his decision.
“As a youngster, I guess all parents want you to do well and they obviously push you to do well, and they do what is necessary to give you the best opportunity to do well, things like extra coaching. As a sportsman, he wanted that for me. He was very strict as a father, but very supportive. He knew what it took to succeed at a higher level.”
“He wanted the best for me and my cricket. Whatever it took, he was that pillar that supported me in those decisions. Him knowing what it took, and the things that you need to stay away from if you wanted to make it in sport, I learnt from those things. He kept me grounded.”
Celebration time with the Dolphins.
Another big influence on SJ was Saint Charles’ 1st XI coach, Dave Karlsen. “He believed in me from a young age,” SJ said. “I started training with the first team at the end of my grade eight year. I trained with them for a bit during my grade nine year. I think I played a couple of games in the Michaelmas Week in grade nine. He always believed in me and pushed me. During PE lessons, he would actually do a bit of coaching with me. He saw the potential in me from an early age.”
He was also encouraged by other boys at the school. “The brotherly community and family attitude at Saint Charles was nice. We had a lot of guys, like Glenn Addicott, who helped me. Also, his brother Denzel and Brad Moses, they were always willing to help and willing to throw balls. There were a lot of senior guys (they know who they are) when I was a youngster at first team practices willing to learn, and they were willing to give advice and willing to help.”
During his time at Saints, SJ earned provincial representation for KZN Inland at under-15, under-17 and under-19 level, which he achieved for two years in succession.
Straight out of school, he joined the Dolphins Academy, but on his arrival there he realised he would need to adjust his goals. He explained: “I used to be a bowler that could bat a bit. When I went to the Dolphins Academy, there were much better spinners than me; Keshav [Maharaj] was there. Our Academy coach just said to me, ‘You can bowl, but work on your batting’.
“I suppose I just fell a bit more in love then with batting than bowling. It was more fun batting and whacking bowlers than bowling. That’s when I changed into a batter.”
During his time at the Academy, SJ made his first class debut, but it was a hit and miss affair, and he was in and out of teams. KZN Inland, where he was to later enjoy a lot of success, was not run in an especially professional manner.
“I was batting at three, then at seven, then nine, then five. I was all over the show, so I never really had a set plan about how I wanted to bat and where I wanted to bat, because I was chopping and changing week in and week out. That probably affected my stats negatively,” he said.
His cricket career, though, took a decided turn for the better when Grant Morgan joined Inland as coach from the 2012-13 season. His leadership and coaching turned the fortunes of the long down-trodden team around and soon they were winning trophies, something which had appeared unthinkable previously.
SJ was batting at five when Morgan arrived at Inland, but the new coach had seen something in the left-hander and pushed him up the order to number three. He explained to SJ how he wanted him to play, told him to back himself, and assured him he would stay at three for the rest of the season. With that, SJ’s game began to mature.
“Then I figured out I didn’t want to play for Inland for the rest of my career. I wanted to move up.
“I had a look at the Dolphins side and where there could be an opportunity. I am very good friends with Divan van Wyk and obviously Imraan Khan, our coach now, we get along very well. We had a good relationship when they played for Inland and they’ve helped me quite a bit through my Inland career and my cricket career. I have got a lot of respect for them. I still speak to Divan and ask them for advice, likewise with his brother, Morné. They’ve helped me a lot.”
“I saw the middle order was packed with youngsters and guys that were consistently doing well. But there were only the two openers, Divan and Imraan, and I thought there was an opportunity there. I was going to try and take it. If it worked out, I could have a successful career. If it didn’t, well I gave it a bash. Divan and Imraan were very supportive of that. It seemed to work out.
“Whenever they were playing for the Dolphins, I would open for Inland. Things started going nicely and they were backing me. In the training sessions, they would help me. We would train with the new ball and they would tell me what it takes, the mind-set and technique. It’s funny how it works out that way.”
SJ Erwee has excelled in the shorter forms of the game, averaging over 40 in the 50-over format. (Photo: Hollywood Bets Sports Blog https://blog.hollywoodbets.net/)
Another important event in his development occurred when SJ was appointed captain of the KZN Inland team. At the time, Grant Morgan was moving to take over the Dolphins, while former Inland captain Shane Burger took up the reins as coach of the side.
“They thought if I captained the team it would give me a bigger responsibility to actually take things more seriously. It ended up exactly that way. I felt that it wasn’t just about me personally as a player trying to do well. I was doing it for the team. That’s where Grant Morgan changed the whole Inland set-up. That’s how we started to win trophies, by playing for each other. We ingrained that into our game plan.”
The one thing that was missing, though, was a century. Many times, SJ would make an eighty or a ninety, but then miss out on three figures. In February 2016, that all changed and when he achieved the milestone he went very big.
Facing a decent Namibian team in a Sunfoil 3-Day Cup match in Pietermaritzburg, he and Divan van Wyk put on a huge 306 runs for the opening wicket before Van Wyk departed for 152. SJ, though, was far from done. Coach Shane Burger had predicted that he was due for a big innings and it duly arrived as SJ, in a knock lasting almost seven hours, struck 23 fours in an innings of 200 not out.
“To get a double-hundred after getting a lot of eighties and nineties the years before, there was a sense of relief,” he said. “I also felt like I wasn’t finished. I was relieved, but there wasn’t any massive celebration. But it was a case of this is what it feels like, I need to get more and more. Then the celebrations become a bit bigger and you feel a bit happier. To get a double-hundred was nice, but it was the start of everything.
“Once I got that double-hundred, I then got a list A hundred for the Dolphins, and then a first class hundred the week after that, for the Dolphins again.
“You get a taste of something and you pick your way through your innings afterwards and see what you did right, what you can do better. You find a process and that’s what clicked for me. Those are processes that you try to repeat day in and day out. That 200 just kick-started me.”
The Inland team also taught SJ life lessons about the vital role of teamwork in cricket, and about taking knocks but then getting back up and fighting. Many of the Inland team were players that other provincial sides had rejected, but they pulled together and won both the 3-Day and T20 provincial titles, convincingly defeating teams that had once deemed them not good enough.
“That’s what Grant Morgan instilled in us. With him getting Shane Burger there, he was a great leader, a great human being, and a great coach afterwards. Our blueprint was yes, you get rejected somewhere else, and things might not go your way, but ultimately there is more to life than just cricket and being successful on the cricket field. It’s the relationships you build around you. You train together every day. You might as well have a good time with each other. That’s how friendships build. Most of us stay in contact with each other, wherever we are around the world, because of the relationships we built in that team during that era.”
Morgan and Burger played crucial roles in SJ’s growth and he regards both men as mentors who were able to extract the best out of him.
On the attack for KZN Inland in the Africa T20 Cup, which the team won in 2017. (Photo: Hollywood Bets Sports Blog, https://blog.hollywoodbets.net/)
One of the most important lessons from Grant Morgan, which he carries with him still, is something one of Morgan’s coaches had told him: You make your mark before lunch, you get in after lunch, and you score your runs after tea.
“That’s the kind of mentality that instilled in me,” SJ said. “Even in the white-ball format, you don’t have to go to a 150 strike rate from the start. Get yourself in and batting gets a touch easier. I’ve tried that over the years and it seems to work.”
In 2017, he had the rare opportunity to represent South Africa in the Hong Kong Sixes. “The Hong Kong Sixes was incredible,” he reckoned. “I watched it as a youngster and it was always something that looked like fun. It was incredible. You saw a small field and balls flying everywhere.
“The guys were had in our side were good guys. We had a lot of fun over those four or five days and we won! I don’t think anyone expected us to win. We got sent to the airport and that was the first time we met with each other. We didn’t have any travel kit. We got to Hong Kong and tried to enjoy our trip. It’s not every day you get to go to Hong Kong and just whack a ball around while experiencing a new country and a new culture. We tried to make the most of the days we had there. It seems like if you try to enjoy something you’re going to do well and that is exactly what happened.”
And even though it wasn’t a major tournament, it was still special to represent the country. “When you hear the national anthem playing and you hear your name announced as playing for South Africa, it is still a privilege. It’s not the ‘real thing’, but to know there are seven of you representing South Africa at a world tournament is quite cool.”
The coronavirus pandemic has prevented SJ from playing club cricket in the UK this season, but he is hopeful that will happen next year. Coming up, hopefully, though, is duty for the Dolphins. “I think I’ve got to be back in Durban for training on the 15th [of June]. We’ll train in small pods.”
As one of the more established players in the team, and as someone now into his thirties, he still continues to lead, but simply through the example he sets for the younger players.
“As the younger guys come through, they talk to you about things. They look at what you do and not just what you say. We have got a lot of leaders in our side, older guys or more experienced guys. Leadership is not always just about talking, it’s about doing. If I keep performing, training hard, and setting the example for the guys coming through, that’s also leadership.”
SJ remains a faithful supporter of Saint Charles and an inspiration to the boys of the school.
While his school days are long past him now, SJ says there are lessons from Saint Charles that he has carried with him throughout his life. “Saint Charles is a small school. There are a lot of talented and hard-working people at the school. You are expected to show good manners as a Saint Charles’ boy and you need that a lot longer than sporting achievements, because sport only lasts for that long. Life after sports and the relationships you build during your sporting career are very important. Humility and manners, how approachable you are to people are very important.”
He maintains close ties with the school and eagerly follows their cricket programme, which has enjoyed some outstanding successes in recent times, including winning 21 matches in succession in 2019 and reaching the final of the National Schools T20 competition.
“I am very excited to see what Saint Charles is achieving,” SJ said. “It’s nice to see Morné van Wyk as the cricket pro. It shows how seriously they are taking their cricket and it’s shown in how well they have done over the last couple of seasons. Morné will only do good things there. He has always been a hard worker and he has got different ideas and techniques, which will help the kids, not only at school, but also after school.
“I am very, very excited. I follow the sport at Saint Charles closely. I try to stay in contact with the Master in Charge of Sport, Rowan Irons, and Morné. It is brilliant to see how well they are doing and what is going on at the school.”
Day four of the Independent Schools Cricket Festival began under cloudy skies, with drizzle threatening to turn into something heavier and spoil the final day of the event. However, with a bit of venue juggling, seven T20 matches were played and at the conclusion of the day, Hilton College, Bishops and Saint Andrew’s College were left with unblemished records writes KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.
“One always wants to achieve the best for all teams that commit to the festival in terms of game time,” Festival Director Wayne Scott commented after the last match. “We got through 19 of our 24 games for the weekend, which was fantastic.
Festival Director Wayne Scott (foreground, blue top) discusses the game as Clifton battle Saint Andrew’s College of Grahamstown.
“From a logistics perspective, to try and coordinate a festival around Durban, when you need six grounds and you don’t have fields of your own, creates its own challenges, so hats off to all my staff and all the logistics people involved.”
HILTON COLLEGE VS MICHAELHOUSE
A big traditional rivalry was scheduled for Durban North College, but a waterlogged field led to Hilton and Michaelhouse moving to College Rovers. The break and new venue proved to be no problem for Hilton who powered their way to a lopsided nine-wicket win in double-quick time.
Brett Cutting shone with the ball for Hilton, capturing 3 for 8 in his four overs, as Michaelhouse, batting first, crashed to a lowly 64 all out.
In reply, the black and white rushed to victory in just 11 overs, led by Matt Diemont. He enjoyed a consistent festival with the bat and ended it on a high with an unbeaten 39.
BISHOPS VS SAINT DAVID’S MARIST INANDA
Bishops had the most reliable top order over the course of the four days and they again came to the fore in a comfortable eight-wicket win over Saint David’s Marist Inanda on the Kingsmead Nursery ground.
Saint David’s batting aspirations were pegged back by losing wickets at regular intervals. Instead they managed an average 116 for 7 in their 20 overs.
James Fifield stood firm with 30 not out for the Gauteng school, while Storm Matthews led the Cape Town school’s attack with a good-looking return of 4 for 17 from his four overs.
Bishops then needed only 16 overs to pass the victory target of 118, getting there for the loss of just two batsmen, with Abdullah Adams contributing 37.
SAINT ANDREW’S COLLEGE VS SAINT JOHN’S COLLEGE
Saint Andrew’s College played two matches, the first against Saint John’s and the second against Clifton, which brought the Festival to a close. Like Bishops, they showed strong depth in their batting.
Playing on the Riverside Football Field first up meant short boundaries square of the wicket and the Grahamstown side took full advantage of that to put up a challenging 181 for 6, with Matt Poole’s 82 proving to be the highest score in any game on the last day. Christopher Ford was the most successful of the Saint John’s bowlers, claiming three wickets, but he was also expensive, going for 49 runs.
Saint Andrew’s College batted aggressively to post an intimidating 181 for 6. (All photos: Brad Morgan, KZN10.com)
The Johannesburgers were not up to the pressure of matching a required run rate of just over nine to the over and fell well short, finishing on 130 for 8, with Harry Grose striking 33. That left Saint Andrew’s the convincing victors by 51 runs.
CLIFTON VS SAINT JOHN’S COLLEGE
Later, on the Riverside Oval, they took on Clifton. The hosts had a very good festival, impressing in the field and with the ball especially, but they didn’t put enough runs on the board to stop the hard-hitting College boys.
Clifton’s Shrey Singh appeals successfully for LBW against Saint Andrew’s College.
Wade Vietch played a good innings to tally 50, but a total of 135 for 4 wasn’t enough to really pressure the Eastern Cape side. Clifton did well to get deep into their batting line-up but, with a couple of overs to spare, Saint Andrew’s College secured a three-wicket win.
CLIFTON VS SAINT STITHIAN’S COLLEGE
Clifton had begun the day with a well-deserved six-wicket victory over Saint Stithian’s. It was built off of a strong bowling performance, which limited Saints to only 105 for 7, with Josh Northend knocking over 3 for 13.
There was an enticing duel between bat and ball when Clifton visited the crease against Saint Stithian’s.
Opening batsman Ben McElligott then played a match-winning innings of 48 not out from 58 deliveries to see Clifton to a six-wicket win.
Assessing the host’s performances, Clifton Director of Cricket Wayne Scott said: “We were playing the best teams from around the country, which is awesome. We always want to play people from different provinces.
“The interesting thing was we had six teams from coastal regions, if we include Bishops and Saint Andrew’s Grahamstown, plus the four schools from KZN. Then we had six schools from inland – from Joburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein.
“The primary objective for us is to have games against new schools, which we achieved.”
SAINT CHARLES COLLEGE VS SAINT ALBAN’S COLLEGE
Saint Charles, after some strong performances, came unstuck against Saint Alban’s on the Durban North College top field. Due to a muddy pitch, bowling was done entirely from the north end, so kudos to the coaches and players for making sure a game took place.
Saint Charles were out in the middle first. Despite short square boundaries, which made for inviting targets for the batsmen, they lost wickets regularly. It led to them posting 130 for 7, which was not as healthy a total as it might have seemed because of the small field.
Short square boundaries invited the Saint Charles’ batsmen to play shots…
Triston Venter struck 41 and Kwanele Nqayi made 30, but the Maritzburg side had trouble with the bowling of Cameron Walker and Luca Kirstein. Walker snapped up 3 for 16 in four overs, while Kirstein captured 3 for 10 in three.
…which backfired at times.
It was tight, but Saint Alban’s got home with eight balls to spare, reaching 135 for 6 in the penultimate over. Their victory owed much to Boago Gaoraelwe whose 67 was crucial to the positive result for the Pretoria boys.
SAINT ANDREW’S SCHOOL VS SAINT BENEDICT’S
A young Saint Andrew’s School side had battled throughout the festival with their batting and against Saint Benedict’s it was again their undoing. Batting first, the Bloemfontein team scraped together only 71 for 9 in their 20 overs. Even though conditions were a little tricky, that was never going to be enough to challenge Saint Benedict’s.
JC Young of Saint Andrew’s goes on the drive against Saint Benedict’s.
Tristan Eley made sure Bennies cruised to the win with an unbeaten 39, which gave them a comfortable eight-wicket margin of victory.
Summing up the four days of the event, Festival Director Wayne Scott said: “From my side, we had a wonderful week of cricket. Lots of new friendships were formed and lots of new bonds were forged, in terms of players playing against each other and coaches getting to know each other.
“It’s all about playing the game in the right spirit, and I think most games were played that way.
“Everyone wants to win but, for me, the awesome thing about the week was that lots of teams got to play against sides that they don’t normally play against.
Michaelhouse 64 all out (B. Cutting 3 for 8)
Hilton College 65 for 1 off 11 overs (M. Diemont 39*)
Hilton won by 9 wickets
Saint Andrew’s College 181 for 6 (M. Poole 82, C. Ford 3 for 49)
Saint John’s College 130 for 8 (H. Grose 33)
Saint Andrew’s College won by 51 runs
Clifton 135 for 4 (W. Vietch 50)
Saint Andrew’s College 137 for 7
Saint Andrew’s College won by 3 wickets
Saint David’s Marist Inanda 116 for 7 (J. Fifield 30*, S. Matthews 4 for 17)
Bishops 117 for 2 off 16 overs (A. Adams 37)
Bishops won by 8 wickets
Saint Stithian’s College 105 for 7 (J. Northend 3 for 13)
Clifton 108 for 4 (B. McElligott 48*)
Clifton won by 6 wickets
Saint Charles College 130 for 7 (T. Venter 41, K. Nqayi 30, Luca Kirstein 3 for 10, C. Walker 3 for 16)
Saint Alban’s College 135 for 6 (B. Gaoraelwe 67)
Saint Alban’s College won by 4 wickets
Saint Andrew’s School 71 for 9
Saint Benedict’s 72 for 2 (T. Eley 39*)
Saint Benedict’s won by 8 wickets
Hilton College and Clifton eked out narrow victories, while Saint Charles powered their way to an emphatic win, on day two of the Independent Schools Under-15 Cricket Festival in Durban on Thursday. The conditions were overcast and windy – no bails were used – and threatened to rain out the games, but ultimately they brought only one contest to a premature end, writes KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.
HILTON COLLEGE VS SAINT JOHN’S COLLEGE
At the Riverside Sports Club, Hilton College put up 189 for 9 in their 50 overs against Saint John’s College. On a turning wicket and with a heavy outfield, it was a decent total and Hilton were confident it would be enough. They were right, but only just.
The issue for Hilton was the fact that five of the top six batsmen in their order made their way into double figures, but none really pushed on to produce a telling contribution.
Ross Boast’s 31 was their best effort, closely followed by Matt Diemont, who made 30.
Oliver Xego sent three batsmen packing at a cost of 31 runs, while Thomas Archer captured 3 for 41 and Liam Billet took 2 for 39. Props, too, to Krishay Patel, who sent down 10 overs and finished with an economical 1 for 20.
Saint John’s had every opportunity to chase down the victory target of 190, but they were undone by their running between the wickets and Hilton’s fielding, with four players departing due to run outs.
Crucially, they included the top scorer in the match, Harry Grose, who made 50 from 75 deliveries, with five fours.
The run out of Harry Grose was a crucial moment in Hilton’s hard-fought win over Saint John’s (All photos: Brad Morgan, KZN10.com)
The two Lukes, Watt and Francis, both made it into the twenties, but were unable to provide the extra impetus, so badly undermined by run outs, that the Saint John’s innings needed. In the end they came up eight runs shy of the Hilton total, finishing on 181 for 9.
CLIFTON VS SAINT DAVID’S MARIST INANDA
Runs were hard to come by at Durban North College where the host school, Clifton, and Saint David’s Marist Inanda went hammer and tongs in a tense, but fairly contested match.
Having won the toss, Clifton chose to bat, but like so many matches on the day – was it the overcast conditions? – saw their batsmen make some starts but none push on to produce a decisive innings.
James Matthis, their top scorer on day one against Saint Alban’s with 71, was once more the leading run-getter, but this time his contribution was 29, taking him to 100 runs for the Festival thus far.
The big disappointment for Clifton would be that Matthis, together with Ben McElligott, put on 46 for the first wicket. Once McElligott departed for 22, Clifton lost the remainder of their wickets for just 99 runs.
Brandon Archer did most of the damage for Saint David’s, snapping up 4 for 31 from his 10 overs. He was well supported by Sohan Desai, who bowled six overs and picked up 3 for 16.
Clifton edged out Saint David’s Marist Inanda after an intense contest in which the ball had the better of the bat.
Caleb McLaren was the glue in the Johannesburg side’s response, making 63 not out, but the support he required was missing and Saint David’s came up 10 runs shy, losing their last wicket with the total on 135.
Clifton owed a lot to spinner Shrey Singh for their victory. His five-for at a cost of 42 runs proved just too much for Saint David’s to overcome.
SAINT CHARLES COLLEGE VS SAINT ANDREW’S SCHOOL
At Collegians, Saint Charles enjoyed a convincing 104-run victory over Saint Andrew’s School. It was far from a vintage batting performance from the Pietermaritzburg side, but they had enough contributions, aided by 26 extras, to muster 217 in 38.4 overs.
Joao de Franca nudged out Matt Urquhart for the top score, making 44 with six fours, while Urquhart sent the ball across the boundary nine times in his innings of 43, which came in double-quick time from just 28 deliveries.
Ross Ritchie produced a telling knock, making 37, while Panashe Taruvinga hit 24.
Jordan van den Berg led the Saint Andrew’s bowlers with a return of 3 for 39, but was a little expensive, going at 6.5 runs per over. Ishaq Khan snapped up 2 for 12 in four, while Schalk Liebenberg was arguably the pick of the Bloemfontein school’s bowlers, capturing 2 for 31 in his 10 overs.
Saint Andrew’s then did themselves no favours when they visited the crease with both openers being run out. Just two players reached double figures as the batting side crumbled under heavy pressure from the Saint Charles’ bowlers and fielders.
Jordan Bentley was the star of the show, knocking over 3 for 13 in 10 overs, while the rest of the wickets were shared around.
The top scorer for Saint Andrew’s School against Saint Charles was middle order batsman Matthew Simon.
Matthew Simon hit 34 at close to a run a ball for Saint Andrew’s and Schalk Liebenberg occupied the crease for a long time for his 25 from 96 deliveries, but with no other meaningful support they were well beaten by Saint Charles.
MICHAELHOUSE VS SAINT BENEDICT’S
Michaelhouse faced Saint Benedict’s at Lahee Park in Pinetown, but they, unfortunately, on a day when rain threatened throughout, were the only teams to have their game rained out. There was a lot of cricket played, nonetheless.
The Balgowan boys mustered 158 in their 50 overs, thanks mostly to Michael Thornton and Nathan Hoatson. Thornton top scored with 52, while Hoatson shone with a knock of 47 runs.
Simele Maye stood out with the ball, with an economical and incisive return of 4 for 21.
The Saint Benedict’s innings then lasted 16 overs before the rain brought it to a close on 58 for 1.
BISHOPS VS SAINT ALBAN’S COLLEGE
In a high-scoring game, which bucked the trend, Bishops recorded a 39-run victory over Saint Alban’s at College Rovers, aided by an astonishing five run outs.
Batting first, after being put in, Bishops posted 289 for 8, which was highlighted by a second wicket stand of 157 between opening batsman Kashief Josephand number three Nic Allison.
Joseph was the first to depart, just nine runs shy of a century, having taken only 115 balls for his 91, with 10 fours and two sixes.
As so often happens when a big stand is broken, the second of the partners sooned joined the other back on the side of the field, with Allison falling just four runs later for 64, with five fours and one maximum.
Abdullah Adams weighed in with a rapid 36 and the middle order all reached double figures without pushing on to anything significant. Still, 289 was a decent total.
Sam Berry picked up three wickets for Saint Alban’s at a cost of 56 runs, while Luca Kirstein claimed 2 for 40 and Eldré Spies a tidy 2 for 36 from his 10 overs.
The Pretoria school’s response lasted 47.2 overs. There was some good batting, but those five run outs were too much to overcome.
Charl Barnard, the hero of their draw against Clifton on day one, was the top scorer once again, making 64 from 96 balls, with five fours, at the top of the order before being caught by Cole Crawford off of the bowling of Jack Crafford.
Stuart van der Merwe made 45 as he and Barnard put on 82 for the second wicket, while lower down the order, Druan Visagie, in at eight, took the attack to the bowlers, cracking an unbeaten 41 from just 35 balls, with five fours and a six. Unfortunately for him and for Saint Alban’s, he ran out of partners as they finished on 250 all out, 40 runs fewer than they required to win.
SAINT STITHIAN’S VS SAINT ANDREW’S COLLEGE
Saint Stithian’s, after a rough outing against Hilton on day one, performed better in their second match against Saint Andrew’s College, but were again on the wrong side of the result, going down by five wickets to the team from Grahamstown.
Richard Seletswane struck 50 for Saint Stithian’s, but good bowling from Hlonela Ntshingwa, who captured 3 for 16, and Stuart Carr, who took 3 for 35, made sure the batting side was unable to get any real momentum going. Still, they managed to make their way to 143 all out.
Saint Andrew’s College, without any one batsman going off, reeled in the Saint Stithian’s total in just 32.2 overs, led by an unbeaten 32 from Oliver Snart, for the loss of five wickets.
Hilton College 189 for 9 (R. Boast 31, M. Diemont 30, T. Archer 3 for 41, O. Xego 3 for 31)
Saint John’s College 181 for 9 (H. Grose 50)
Hilton won by eight runs
Clifton 145 all out (J. Matthis 30)
Saint David’s Marist Inanda 135 all out (C. McLaren 63*, S. Singh 5 for 42)
Clifton won by 10 runs
Saint Charles College 217 all out (De Franca 44, Urquhart 43, Ritchie 37, Van den Berg 3 for 39)
Saint Andrew’s School 113 all out (M. Simon 34, J. Bentley 3 for 13)
Saint Charles won by 104 runs
Michaelhouse 158 all out (M. Thornton 52, N. Hoatson 47, Simele 4 for 21)
Saint Benedict’s 58 for 1 off 16 overs
Game abandoned due to rain
Bishops 289 for 8 (K. Joseph 91, C. Crawford 65)
Saint Alban’s College 250 all out
Bishops won by 39 all out
Saint Stithian’s College 143 all out (R. Seletswane 50, H. Ntshingwa 3 for 16, S. Carr 3 for 35)
Saint Andrew’s College 145 for 5 (O. Snart 32*)
Saint Andrew’s won by 5 wickets
For the teams that travelled from the central areas of South Africa, the opening day of the Independent Schools Under-15 Cricket Festival must have been a bit of a smack in the face; it was very hot and very humid in Durban and the outfields were playing slowly, meaning any time spent in the middle, be it with bat or ball, would be taxing.
KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan took in some intense competition, which resulted in wins for Hilton College, Michaelhouse, and Bishops, and strong draws for Clifton, Saint Charles and Saint Andrew’s College.
The format for the day was time cricket, with 50-overs matches set to follow on Thursday and Friday, and T20s on Saturday.
(Score summaries below)
CLIFTON vs SAINT ALBAN’S
At Riverside, the host school, Clifton, squared up to Saint Alban’s College of Pretoria. In the early going, it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the contest, led by the Kirstein twins, seamer Luca and off-spinner Liam, who captured the first four wickets to fall as Clifton lurched to 42 for 4.
Connor McKenzie and James Matthis then lent the innings some substance by moving the total along to 71 before McKenzie was bowled by Liam Kirstein for 20. Ben van der Merwe (7) didn’t last too long, but that brought Kyle Thomas to the crease and he, together with James Matthis, then set about taking control of the battle between bat and ball.
The duo combined for a very well played partnership of 104 to put Clifton in the driving seat.
Thomas brought stability and watchfulness to the crease, refusing to play any risky shots, while Matthis took on the dominant role, impressing with his willingness to take on any full ball by driving straight and true over the top. In the end, his offensive mindset cost him his wicket, stumped off the bowling of Boago Gaoraelwe for a fine 71 from 107 deliveries, with 10 fours, but not before he had played a pivotal knock.
Clifton added a further 15 runs before declaring on 200 for 8 from 64.2 overs, with the left-hander, Kyle Thomas, unbeaten on 48, which had come from 88 balls and included five fours.
Liam Kirstein led the Saint Alban’s attack, snaring 5 for 64 in 19 overs with his spin, while his brother, Luca, picked up 2 for 28 in 7.2.
Charl Barnard’s bat stood between Clifton and a convincing victory. (All photos, Brad Morgan, KZN10.com)
In reply, the Pretoria school had opener Charl Barnard (above) to thank for not being run over by the Clifton attack. He played a nuggetty knock, which last all 54 overs of the Saint Alban’s reply, to finish on an undefeated 60 from 158 balls, with eight fours.
All around him, the Saint Alban’s batsmen struggled. Luke Sass managed 14, but his was the only other score to make it beyond single figures as the Clifton spinners tied up the opposition batsmen in knots.
Clifton’s Keaton Murray clean bowled Luca Kirstein for a single.
Barnard’s battling knock was rewarded, however, when Saint Alban’s gutted it out to reached 97 for 8 by stumps. Opening bowler Keaton Murray captured 2 for 8 for Clifton from nine overs, five of which were maidens, while his new ball partner, Mitchell Tillard, claimed 1 for 7 in seven.
It was the twin spin offensive from Huzaifah Badat and Shrey Singh, though, that caused all kinds of trouble for Saint Albans. Badat snared 3 for 25 in 15 overs, while Singh finished with 2 for 16 from his 12.
In the end, however, Barnard stood between Clifton and victory.
SAINT CHARLES VS SAINT DAVID’S MARIST INANDA
Saint Charles College faced Saint David’s Marist Inanda on the Kingsmead Nursery Ground and enjoyed themselves at the crease. Spending 65 overs out in the middle, they tallied a useful 271 for 8.
Matthew Urquhart top scored with 70 and there was plenty of meaningful support for his innings from Panashe Taruvinga, who made 42, Stefan Veldsman, with 40, and Joao de Franca with 30.
Saint David’s found the going a lot tougher in their turn at bat. In just 10 fewer overs than Saint Charles required to get their 271, the Johannesburgers scratched their way to 78 for 7, which was enough for them to hold out for a draw.
De Franca showed off his all-round ability as he added a bowling return of 3 for 13 off of 15 overs to go with his 30 with the bat, while Jordan Bentley knocked over 3 for 19 in 12.
MICHAELHOUSE VS SAINT ANDREW’S SCHOOL
Michaelhouse and Saint Andrew’s School met at College Rovers in a contest dominated by the ball. Batting first, a young Saints’ team lost a couple of early wickets, but were then settled by a stubborn innings of 34 by Jordan van den Berg. He stuck around for 98 balls and sent three deliveries to the boundary before falling victim to Nathan Hoatson for 34.
Letlo Likhi put together a dour 28 not out from 149 balls, with two fours, but not much else was offered by the Bloem boys, who were dismissed for 113 in 63 overs.
Nathan Hoatson was the pick of the Michaelhouse bowlers, returning the superb figures of 20 overs, 11 maidens, 3 for 15.
Graham Wynne snapped up 2 for 9 in four and Aiden Jinnah claimed 2 for 36 as the ‘House attack set their batsman a very gettable target.
Michaelhouse were forced to sweat for their runs and for victory by Saint Andrew’s School.
At 43 for 1 in reply, the Balgowan-based side was cruising along, but they then saw three wickets fall for just eight runs. Another flurry of wickets, which saw them reduced from 65 for 4 to 80 for 7 had Michaelhouse concerned. But, for the loss of just one more wicket, they edged across the finishing line to secure a narrow win by two wickets.
At the top of the order, Kyle Walker had played a crucial knock, making 32 from 60 balls, with four fours, while Murray Baker struck 23 at a run a ball, with four boundaries. Dakalo Leketa starred for Saint Andrew’s, picking up 3 for 24 in 15 overs.
HILTON COLLEGE VS SAINT STITHIAN’S
At Crusaders, Hilton College powered their way to a convincing victory over Saint Stithian’s.
Batting first, Saints mustered 136 all out, with Masande Luthuli leading the way with an innings of 38 runs.
Nick Chantier was the pick of the Hilton bowlers, sending three batsmen packing to return figures of 3 for 25.
It simply wasn’t enough runs and Hilton were ruthless in their pursuit of the win.
Wian Liebenberg did most of the damage, weighing in with 70, while Matt Diemont hit 40 to see the boys from the Midlands to an emphatic nine-wicket victory.
BISHOPS VS SAINT JOHN’S COLLEGE
Also at Crusaders, Bishops and Saint John’s met. The Johannesburg side has been a bit up and down this season, due mostly to inconsistent batting, scoring some good wins and suffering some disappointing losses, but a total of 196 all out looked like a reasonable score. It turns out if wasn’t nearly enough to stave off the Capetonians’ charge.
Storm Matthews shone for Bishops, striking an unbeaten 83, , which was the highest individual score achieved by any batsman on the day, and Abdullah Adams lent strong support with 68, to see the Cape Town school to an impressive five-wicket win.
SAINT ANDREW’S COLLEGE VS SAINT BENEDICT’S
At Collegians, Saint Andrew’s College were the only team to top 300, putting together 301 for 6 against Saint Benedict’s. Their innings didn’t have one very big score, but there was plenty of consistency from the batsmen.
Sibusiso Mxube top scored with 62 for the Grahamstown boys, Matthew Poole struck 60 not out, Matthew Beamish contributed 50, Bertram White 50, and Sinjhun Cawse an undefeated 34.
In reply, Saint Benedict’s put up 161 for 5 as the game petered out into a tame draw. Quaid Pillay returned the top score of 41 and Declan le Roux came close to matching him, making 35.
Clifton 200 for 8 (J. Matthis 71, B. van der Merwe 48, Liam Kirstein 5 for 64, Luca Kirstein 2 for 28)
Saint Alban’s 97 for 8 (C. Barnard 60*, H. Badat 3 for 25, K. Murray 2 for 8, S. Singh 2 for 16)
Saint Charles College 271 for 8 (M. Urquhart 70, P. Taruvinga 42, S. Veldsman 40*, J. de Franca 30)
Saint David’s Marist Inanda 78 for 7 (J. de Franca 3 for 13, J. Bentley 3 for 19)
Saint Stithian’s 136 all out (M. Luthuli 38, N. Chantier 3 for 25)
Hilton College 145 for 1 (W. Liebenberg 70, M. Diemont 40)
Hilton won by 9 wickets
Saint Andrew’s School 113 all out (J. van den Berg 34, L. Likhi 28*, N. Hoatson 3 for 15, G. Wynne 2 for 9)
Michaelhouse 114 for 8 (K. Walker 32, M. Baker 23, D. Leketa 3 for 24)
Michaelhouse won by 2 wickets
Saint John’s 196 all out
Bishops 201 for 5 (S. Matthews 83*, A. Adams 68)
Bishops won by 5 wickets
Saint Andrew’s College 301 for 6 (S. Mxube 62, M. Poole 60*, M. Beamish 50, B. White 50, S. Cawse 34*)
Saint Benedict’s 161 for 5 (Q. Pillay 41, D. le Roux 35)
St Charles College do not often get the opportunity to play against Treverton College in basketball and therefore it was a nice break from the regular fixtures this past weekend.
Treverton were definitely considered the underdogs in this game as they took on a Saints team which is currently unbeaten and has won its previous fixtures comfortably.
Darren Holcomb feature photo: St Charles College took on Treverton in basketball at the SK Arena on Saturday and each team had a set of twins who played influential roles in the game; the Saints Bradley and Justin Harris and Treverton’s Jonothan and Benjamin Brownrigg.
Treverton, however, had an upset in mind as they kept the game close in the first period with sharp-shooting from the 3-point line.
The Saints, although not playing well, remained calm and stayed in their systems, looking to penetrate the defence and open up the shooting channels.
St Charles College eventually found their rhythm in the second quarter and started to open up the lead.
With good running basketball and some good outside shooting, the Saints were able to extend their lead and, with the pressure off, play some excellent basketball.
Credit must be given to Treverton, who remained committed to the game throughout and fought with everything they had.
The final score saw the Saints winning 60-32.
Down in Durban, the Saints 2nd team managed to win a tight encounter against Glenwood’s 1st team, final score, 24-21.
St Charles College first XI played host to Clifton College on The Saints Oval on Saturday, 18 January 2020 in what was the first outing in the first term of the new year. Clifton College won the toss and elected to bowl.
After a slow start, the St Charles College middle order came to the fore in the latter half of the innings and took the total to a defendable 179/7 off the allotted 50 overs.
Feature image: St Charles College badge and motto Fideli Certa Merces… to the faithful one a certain reward.
Chaise Botha (39), Keegan Crawford (37) and Matthew Erasmus (33*) were the pick of the Saints’ batsman.
Clifton, in reply, got off to a quick start after SCC had set attacking fields, but after a few quick wickets before the 10th over, they were unable to keep up the momentum.
At afternoon tea, Clifton were 89/8 and the game was ultimately sealed.
Disappointingly, the Saints were unable to make quick inroads into the bottom order and were made to wait until the 42nd over to seal a comfortable 38-run victory, this after Clifton were eventually out for 141.
Teague Ridgway top-scored for Clifton with a fighting 52.
Seamer Steven Scott, with 3 wickets, was the pick of the SCC bowlers.
Match info supplied courtesy of St Charles College.
The impressive St Charles College first XI win against Clifton comes on the back of a commanding 42-run victory over the Grey College first XI in Bloemfontein, to make it two emphatic victories from two outings for the Saints first XI this year.
Nathan Lunderstedt was the mainstay of the Saints innings vs Grey College in Bloemfontein, while Saints fast bowler Keegan Crawford wreaked havoc amongst the Grey College batsmen, backed to the hilt by Lunderstedt.
Saints scores in brief vs Grey College in Bloemfontein
St Charles College 140 all out (Nathan Lunderstedt 53)
Grey College 98 all out (Keegan Crawford 5/29 in 7 overs, Nathan Lunderstedt 3/14 in 5 overs)
St Charles College won by 42 runs
OTHER SAINTS vs CLIFTON RESULTS
Saints 84 all out (Cox 4-18, Vincent 3-28)
Clifton won by 7 wickets
Clifton 109 all out (Rajcoomar 34)
Saints 110/1 (McGuire 42)
Saints won by 9 wickets
Clifton 198 all out (Reddy 31, Pillay 32, Armitage-Graves 36)
Saints 111 all out (Wasenaar 32, Sonitis 3-11)
Clifton won by 87 runs
Clifton 164 all out (Riley 26*)
Saints 148 all out (Tillard 4-29)
Clifton won by 16 runs
Clifton 73 all out
Saints 74/1 (Fortman 31)
Saints won by 9 wickets
KZN10.com observation: What is remarkable in the above record of 3 wins apiece is the decisive nature of the victories, the closest outcome being 16 runs in the U15A game.
It’s the much-anticipated Saints vs Red Black & White first XI Twenty20 derby 4pm at the Varsity Oval today and the question on my lips is: Will it be another 97-96 Epic??
The KZN Inland Big 4 Quadrangular – or T20 Big Bash presented by PMB Varsity Cricket Club – is into its second round this week and the two sides that emerged victorious from Round 1 are going head-to-head.
Jono Cook feature image: Maritzburg College’s talented grade 11 batsman Ross Klusener has the proven BMT to score runs when it matters most.
Last time out St Charles edged Michaelhouse by 10 runs while Maritzburg College comfortably dealt with a disappointing Hilton College.
Back to the 97-96 Match.
After the long-awaited SCC v MC 50-over match was cancelled without a ball being bowled due to the inclement weather in the first term, a T20 friendly was hastily arranged for the next mutually accepted gap the following week – and what a classic it turned out to be.
Saints were bundled out for a modest 97 and Maritzburg College were cruising to victory at the back-end of the match before some magic with the ball and out in the field by the celebrated Zim duo of SCC captain and 2019 SA Schools T20 Player of the Year Wes Madhevere and his super-talented countryman Clive Madande pulled the home side’s fortunes out of the fire and spurred them to the narrowest of one-run, last-ball-of-the-match victories.
Going into this afternoon’s 4pm Big Bash the Maritzburg College lads had spent some quality time out in the middle during the weekend’s Fasken Cricket Festival hosted by St David’s Marist Inanda in Johannesburg.
But the two sets of two-day double innings matches ain’t quite T20 so it’ll be interesting to see how quickly the men in the red-black-and-white-striped first XI caps adapt to the demands of the truncated form of the game.
Saints enjoyed a comfortable win in a low-scoring 50-over encounter with visitors Northwood on Saturday and are therefore probably more finely-tuned for today’s muscle-up.
That said, a T20 local derby is anyone’s game so it’ll probably boil down to who of 2019 Coca-Cola Schools T20 National Franchise Finals silver medallists St Charles College or the gutsy well-balanced Maritzburg College squad want victory the most.
We will know for sure in just a few hours’ time.
The food and cooldrinks/coffee/cappuccino catering is good at the Varsity Oval (in the Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road in Scottsville) while the cricket is sure to deliver.
Winning the toss and opting to bat could also be a game-breaker as the team batting second has to negotiate the in-between time when the setting sun and the floodlights compete for the batters’ attention.
See you there.
If not, you’re welcome to follow my live text commentary and more on the Jonathan Cook Facebook page.
This year’s Coca-Cola Schools T20 National Franchise finalists St Charles College take on Michaelhouse: UKZN PMB Varsity Cricket Club’s Schools T20 Big Bash kicks off at 4pm on the PMB Varsity Cricket Oval in the Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road in Scottsville this afternoon.
Let’s hope the Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road draws plenty of support from the two schools’ Old Boys, parents, boys and staff – plus you the school sports enthusiast – as we’ll be basking under the Varsity Oval floodlights on a beautiful Spring evening in just a few hours’ time.
@kirstyspix feature image: Michaelhouse and KZN Inland 17 batsman Jared Meiring hits a massive six for his Zulu Kings franchise during a recent Dolphins Premier League T18 match at the City Oval in Pietermaritzburg.
Tomorrow’s 4pm Big Bash start sees 2018 Coca-Cola Schools T20 National Franchise finalists Hilton College up against long-standing rivals Maritzburg College – another schoolboy cricket clash to savour.
Several of the cricketers in today’s clash have already spent fruitful time in the middle – be it for the KZN Inland U17 squad versus Zimbabwe, for their respective teams in the Dolphins Premier League or during pre-season friendlies for their school first teams.
The 4pm Big Bash Twenty20 action continues next week – this time on the Tuesday and the Thursday – when Saints tackle Maritzburg College (4pm on 10 September) before Hilton cross swords with the busy Saints (4pm on 12 September).
Then there is a 20-day break until play resumes when Maritzburg College meet Michaelhouse (4pm on 2 October) followed by Michaelhouse vs Hilton 24 hours later (4pm on 3 October).
The third/fourth place playoff is the following week (8 October) before the grand finale title match 2 days later (10 October).
See you there!
The scene is set for the 8th annual MTN PMB High Schools Football Association Cup, to be held at Howick High from Friday to Sunday this weekend and one can argue with conviction that it’s anyone’s ballgame.
Having watched a number of the teams this year it is a lottery as to who emerge with the trophy.
The strength of the teams in Pietermaritzburg (PMB) and KZN midlands boys’ high school football is so evenly-matched this year.
The unpredictable nature of the outcomes this season means that it’s impossibly hard to determine with any semblance of accuracy, who the finalists will be, come the aftermath of the 3pm trophy match on the Howick High School turf on Sunday.
What is absolutely dead-certain as we draw close to Friday afternoon’s opening exchanges is that there are 20 schoolboy first teams with gold medals on their mind and nothing else.
Any of the usual big guns could win it, as they have all beaten each other over the course of the season. The tournament kicks off at 1pm on Friday, with the boys’ final scheduled for 3pm on Sunday.
Hilton College are the two-time defending champions and are looking to become the first side to win the trophy three times – 2017 winners, 2018 winners, 2019 winners.
They beat Maritzburg College in an excruciating penalty shootout in last year’s final and the boys of the RedBlackWhite will be pushing to go one better.
It has certainly been a trophy season for the Maritzburg College lads, having already picked up the PMB A League and the Primo League titles in 2019.
St Charles College – the most dangerous of sides – were one of last year’s semi-finalists.
Saints bowed out to Hilton in yet another agonising penalty shootout, penalties that were so masterfully managed by ace Hilton College keeper Costi Christodoulou, last year’s SA U17 soccer captain and Manchester City trialist.
Haythorne made up the 2018 semi-final quartet. And like the French rugby team, one never knows which Haythorne brand of football will turn up on the day – it can be inspirational stuff that feeds off the moment, or it can be rather disappointing.
Of some of the other teams, Carter are never to be trifled with in Cup football while I personally have a great deal of time for the Michaelhouse team.
Terrific strikers, a solid pair of central defenders, intelligent distributors of the ball – and the most committed of captains in goalkeeper Noah Stanger, the Men of House are, in my opinion, in with a very real chance to wrest the trophy away from their Hilton rivals.
Alex have had a rather disappointing season to date and will no doubt be thirsting to prove a point, as will first-time entrants Eastwood, who won the PMB B League this year and will want to show that they thoroughly deserve their promotion to The Big Show.
Last year was my first taste of MTN PMB FA Cup football and it was a fabulous eye-opener.
The Howick High School set-up is great and the organisation of what is an extremely time-pressured schedule by Uraisha Haswell and her team is second to none.
From humble beginnings, this tournament has become the most popular and most intensely-fought-for accolade in the Pietermaritzburg and KZN midlands region.
This year, there are a total of 36 teams participating: the 20 boys’ teams, as mentioned earlier, and 16 girls’ teams.
In the girls section, Edendale Technical College have ruled the roost of late and are two-time defending champs but they were pushed all the way in last year’s final by hosts Howick, who will be determined to lift the trophy for the first time, on home soil.
Ixopo and Carter will also expect to be in the final stages – or perhaps there could be a surprise from the likes of GHS or from the spirited Kokstad College girls.
It’s been a long wait.
Now the waiting is over.
Thinking back on last week’s announcement to a large gathering of Saints boys in the school chapel that St Charles College had appointed Morne van Wyk as Cricket Specialist from the first of July, it set me musing about the Q and A session prior to the announcement and what I – and the boys – had learnt from it.
Jono Cook feature image: Morne van Wyk and St Charles College first XI captain Wesley Madhevere outside the chapel after the announcement.
Saints head of sport Rowan Irons asked a number of interesting questions, among them this vastly experienced cricketer’s thoughts on the Proteas’ chances at the World Cup, and Morne obliged with a set of thought-provoking answers. And I learnt further, this time on Morne’s appointment, in the impromptu video piece Morne did with me shortly afterwards.
With the Cricket World Cup on the go right now, as I type, host nation England setting South Africa a target of 312 in the tournament’s opening match at Lord’s, it’s apt to start this piece at the end of the Q&A, when Rowan asked Morne for his opinion on the chances of the Proteas doing something they’ve never done before.
“I think it is different for the South African team this time, as there are not excessive expectations on them to win it. Dave Miller said to me that the players are not feeling the pressure.
“Another plus is that it is a long tournament and our Proteas can grow into the tournament. What is vital is to peak at the right time.
“It is a very open World Cup; there are 6 or 7 sides that can take it. Sides like Afghanistan can upset the fancied sides and throw the tournament wide open, but getting to the knockout stage is paramount.”
Morne said to the boys in the Saints chapel that he had made his first-class debut for Free State while in Grade 12 at Grey College. “It was a dream come true, a special moment.”
“Another big moment was when I made my debut for South Africa in 2003 at Lord’s, a fantastic memory.”
Rowan then made the point that Morne found a special home in the white-ball format of the game.
“Yes, I remember playing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on a drop-in pitch against India,” said Morne. “I was in-form but still a bit surprised at my call-up. Before I knew it, I had got a nice score, it was a great experience.”
“My knock against the West Indies in Durban towards the end of my international career – I thought it was my last game for South Africa and after a nervous start in the T20 I got to a comfortable place and made the magical three figures for SA… definitely a highlight.”
Rowan then asked Morne for his thoughts on the early specialisation by a schoolboy in a particular sports code.
Morne first outlined his personal experience.
“I played rugby, cricket and tennis during my Prep School days,” said Morne.
“Then in grade 8 at high school (Grey College) I’d come off two Craven Weeks (Morne played provincial cricket, rugby and tennis during his grade 6 and 7 years) but heard that Jonty Rhodes played hockey.
“As I wanted to emulate Jonty and play cricket for South Africa, I decided to switch to hockey (Morne made the SA U16 squad during his high school years) and to this day I still play hockey.”
Then, directing his response more specifically towards the predominantly Saints Senior School boys packed into the chapel, Morne said he felt it was important that the boys didn’t choose a particular sport over a group of sports too soon.
“Looking back, I found I was able to adapt aspects of what I had learnt in tennis and hockey and apply them to my cricket, but I think there comes a time when you do naturally lean towards specialising in the particular sport of your choice.”
Not a wicketkeeper from the outset of his cricket journey, Morne’s natural balls skills and multiple sports code experiences at junior level stood him in good stead when called upon to be a gloveman for Free State in his early twenties
My interpretation of Morne’s words is that the time for a schoolboy to begin focusing on one sport comes about organically; there is a point in your life that it kind of happens on its own – it is not forced, or imposed, or engineered – it just happens through circumstance (like making your first-class cricket debut in matric, the Morne van Wyk sports specialisation path had begun).
For another boy it might be making a KZN Coastal or KZN Inland U18 team in his matric year; that might be the time when the boy’s thoughts should turn to focusing on the sport he has gained the highest recognition for.
Rowan then asked Morne for his viewpoint on the dynamics of a team.
“A team is like a school – everyone should feel that they are part of a family,” said Morne. “There must be mutual respect between the older, more experienced players and the young guys – that is non-negotiable.
“Upholding team values trumps sporting victories but if you have the first, often you get the second.”
If one looks at the successes of the Springboks in winning the 1995 and 2007 Rugby World Cups, the “team as family” concept appeared to be a major factor in their lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy aloft in Johannesburg and Paris respectively.
St Charles head of sport Rowan Irons mentioned that Morne played professional cricket for over 20 years, so Jono did a bit of homework.
South Africa, Dolphins, Eagles, Free State, Kolkata Knight Riders, KZN Coastal, Quetta Gladiators… that’s seven first-class cricket teams over two decades.
That’s a lot of cricket contracts – around five, so wicketkeeper batsman Morne knows the feeling of needing to put quality runs on the scoreboard and keep with precision behind the wicket – and lead a side well in his captaincy roles… or else… hard-earned contracts can dissolve pretty quickly.
So what advice could Morne give to schoolboys keen on making it in professional sport?
“It is very much a performance-related environment,” said Morne, who is a youthful 40-year-old. “Often the contracts you sign are for no longer than one or two years so the pressure on you to perform is great.”
A total of 605 first-class cricket matches across all formats of the game in a career spanning 23 years tells one of the durability, longevity and character of the man.
“Just remember that while your career is important, you will do best if you remind yourself that it’s not everything in life. That certainly took the feeling of pressure away from me.”
The Bloemfontein-born Morne is a serving Christian and his faith has been a rock in good times and not-so-good. Once again, my takeaway was that looking at the bigger picture rather than a specific incident is the way to go.
Morne’s broad advice to Prep and Senior School boys as far as their sport is concerned?
“Do your best, lay strong foundations, forge friendships and have fun.”
Soon after the conclusion of the Q&A, the Principal of the 5 Schools in 1 College, Mr Allen van Blerk, announced that Morne van Wyk had been the unanimous choice of the selection panel as St Charles College’s new Cricket Specialist.
The school and Morne both feel that they have found the right “fit”.
The St Charles College term “Cricket Specialist” is essentially what other schools describe as the director of cricket.
Among Morne’s more interesting match-ups when the KZN10 cricket season resumes later this year is when Saints take on Northwood, where his younger brother, Divan, is director of cricket.
Mutual respect, cricket as a family, and the bigger picture.
KZN10.com wishes Morne van Wyk and St Charles College cricket everything of the best.