Hilton College first XI’s nine-wicket victory over Kearsney College on the Jack Hart-Davis Oval Saturday was a polished performance in every respect.
In this KZN10 Super Saturday focus match, Hilton bundled Kearsney for 93 and knocked it off at the cost of one pole… with quality, no-risk batting.
A declaration format, Kearsney won the toss and opted to bat – it was something of a surprise, considering the velocity of the Hilton pace battery and the bowler-friendly weather conditions.
Feature foto – LOCKED & LOADED: Hilton College first XI paceman John Turner.
The Hilton track prepared by the experienced Andre Wessels was fast, bouncy and consistent. Add the humidity (by Hilton standards) and cloud cover; and bingo! Frontman John Turner and the young Hilton pacemen Matthew Boast (grade 10) and Ethan Bain (grade 11) made merry.
The Hilton front trio of John Turner, Matt Boast and Ethan Bain were spot-on with their back-of-a-length swing, and seam off the pitch – coupled with a tasty mix of well-directed bouncers and throat balls
Running in from the School End, it was first Boast and then Bain who hurried the Kearsney batters into a torrent of errors.
The Hilton catching behind the stumps was worth the trip along the N3 on its own. A keeper catch and a slip catch were exceptional takes.
I have never seen Ethan bowl before (he missed 2018 due to injury) and was hugely impressed. Clearly he is a natural athlete, and from his smooth run-up through to the bowling action and follow-through, Ethan looks the real deal.
I have seldom seen Boast bowl – given his age and grade – and once again he impressed with his high strike rate, unrelenting pressure and natural ability to bowl a heavy ball in the Brian McMillan mode.
Matt Boast settled into his first XI front-man-in-the fast-lane role from the get-go in early-January Cape Town as if he owned the space.
For a quick bowler to make the jump from playing his own age-group two months ago to running in against experienced top-order batsmen one and, in most cases, two years his senior, is a daunting task.
Matthew has done it – and then some.
The ever-consistent high pace, hostility, and line and length of super-fit opening bowler John Turner kept up the pressure during his two spells from the Astro End.
In his second spell, John was the unlucky recipient of a number of streaky shots that thick- or top- or thin-edged a touch over – or just wide – of the eagerly waiting posse of faultless-on-the-day hands behind the wicket from keeper to the packed slip and gulley cordon.
Left-arm spinner Mike Frost employed his artful array deliveries to snuff out any hope of relief for the Kearsney batters. It wasn’t a wicket for the attacking leg-spinner Colby Dyer, whose strike rate in both grade 10 and now grade 11 is extremely high.
Such was Hilton’s dominance that a key member of last year’s attack, Tom Dixon, didn’t need to be called on. One suspects that Tom would have relished what the pitch had to offer his swing and seam.
As mentioned, it is also a Hilton attack without strike bowler supreme Michael Booth, who is being rested ahead of important cricket assignments. One shudders to think at the havoc Boothie might have made with the ball.
The break is giving Michael the opportunity to play with success in his number 4 batting slot and the freedom to focus solely on the captaincy while out in the field.
When one recalls his breath-taking, one-handed cracker, among his clutch of catches and all-round impression behind the stumps, there is no doubt that debutant (grade 10) wicketkeeper Slade van Staden made his presence felt.
Orando et Laborando‘s catching in front of the wicket and particularly in the outfield was also first class.
Only the strongly-built Chase Kelly who, one suspects, hits a high percentage of his runs via the four and six route, and the consistent Cade Carmichael had a measure of success with the bat for Kearsney before getting out.
The Hilton response with the bat was exemplary, the top 3 whittling away the 94-run target by playing each ball on its merits and packing off the loose delivery for four.
Josh Watt and Chris Meyer did the initial work upfront for the Hilton batters. Josh, tall and strong, took the lead and again presented his arsenal of powerful shots, as seen in his 74 against Clifton College at Riverside on Feb 2.
Meyer, growing in confidence with every innings, was then joined by first-wicket Colby Dyer for the pair to take it home. Chris’s burgeoning self-belief is pleasing to see.
The Hilton first XI number 3 batting slot has been something of a problem up till now but it appears that Dyer’s first two knocks in the position, a 52 (run out) at Clifton on 2 Feb and the 35 not out on Saturday 9 Feb vs Kearsney signals a change in fortunes in this regard.
A thinking cricketer, Colby plays very straight, strives to treat each ball on its merits, and understands what this Hilton batting line-up requires of him. Colby’s elevation from number 7 in the batting order has been a smart move by coach Tim Groenewald.
Somerset professional Hilton College first XI coach Tim Groenewald pleased with the day’s play.
Each batsman has a different role to play in the batting line-up and the mix-and-match can be trial and error before it’s resolved. I think Boys of Hilton have got it just about right.
It has been a case of trying out different combinations and players (there is also quality waiting in the wings).
The champagne days of the Awesome Foursome – James Ritchie, Robbie McGaw, Mikey Sclanders and Gareth Schreuder – came (for us KZN10 schoolboy cricket fans) to a sad end at the close of 2018.
The Fantastic Four amassed well over 8000 runs for Hilton in their standout first XI careers… a tough act to follow.
For Kearsney this match was yet another disappointment, coming after a series of defeats.
There is much thought and work for this Kearsney first XI ahead of the Independent Schools Festival hosted, so splendidly as always, by St Alban’s College from February 21 to 24.
The two-day, double innings match format on the Thursday and Friday will be a great opportunity for the Kearsney lads to demonstrate that they have taken on board the lessons from the Jack Hart-Davis Oval.
Batting first in a declaration format (in this case a 110-over match) allows the team batting first a maximum 60 overs and the opposition a minimum 50 overs.
If the team batting first decide to declare or are bowled out within the 60 overs, the balance of their 60 overs is added to the team batting second’s 50 overs.
It is usually a given that winning the toss comes with a “bat-first” decision as it affords 10 extra overs to craft a defendable total.
However, the bowler-friendly conditions, coupled with Hilton’s experienced, varied and disciplined attack – and the out-of-form Kearsney batters, proved the undoing of the lads from Botha’s Hill.
More concerning, though, was the Kearsney batsmen’s inability, or unwillingness, to leave high-risk deliveries well alone – and the willingness to take T20-style risks with their shotmaking that was manna from heaven for the strong Hilton bowling attack.
This is a Kearsney team with plenty in the way of natural talent. It’s just not doing the things that will give that ability the chance to reap rewards.
While it was a disappointing day for the first XI, Kearsney won the U14A (by 34 runs at Hilton) and won the U16A (by 78 runs at Kearsney) matches in convincing fashion.
Hilton won the other premier age-group match – the U15As – by 6 wickets at Kearsney.
First XI SCORES IN BRIEF
* Kearsney won the toss
* Declaration format
Kearsney 93 all out
Chase Kelly 29
Cade Carmichael 20
Matt Boast 9 overs 4 maidens 15 runs 4 wickets
Ethan Bain 4-2-6-3
Mike Frost 7.3-4-13-2
John Turner 10-3-43-1
Josh Watt 27
Chris Meyer 30*
Colby Dyer 35*
Hilton College won by 9 wickets