Both Glenwood 1st XI coach Brandon Scullard and captain SJ de Klerk agree that the cricket season has finished too soon. In a relatively short season, Glenwood claimed some notable scalps and exceeded expectations for a very young team that featured only three matric boys, writes KZN10.com’s Brad Morgan.

In fact, the results are a step up on the 2019 season, despite that side including five KwaZulu-Natal under-19 players, one of them being SA under-19 pace man, Lifa Ntanzi, who was the quickest schoolboy bowler in the country.

That team also featured three KZN under-17 players and one of them, SJ de Klerk, this year’s 1st team captain, led the provincial side.

A good deal of Glenwood’s success in the first term – including wins over Westville, Saint Charles, Northwood and Maritzburg College – can be attributed to the example set by De Klerk. The story of how he found Glenwood (not the other way around) is fascinating.

He was brought up in Gauteng and attended Laerskool Fairland in Randburg where, he said in a sit down at Glenwood late last week, he learned to work hard and to keep working.

Glenwood 1st XI’s big win over Northwood on Dixon’s

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He was very happy in Johannesburg, but his life changed in a big way when his family chose to move to Ireland. There, SJ did well on the cricket field and was chosen to lead the Irish national under-15 team. Then an opportunity arose for him to return to South Africa.

SJ explained: “You have a transition year. In that year you can play sport or do a culture tour. I had heard of the exchange, so I said I wanted to come to South Africa.

“There were quite a few schools I could pick from. Normally they do it for three months, but I said I wanted to do it for six months, make the most of it, and improve my cricket. I took the opportunity and it was supposed to be three months at Glenwood and three months at Menlo Park.

“After a month or so, Mr Scullard asked if I would consider staying on for the entire six months, so the chat started with my parents. I told them I was absolutely loving it here. We then decided that we would let Menlo Park know that I would be staying at Glenwood for six months.

“Those six months changed my life.”

SJ de Klerk, Glenwood’s captain, is also the 1st XI’s wicketkeeper.

When his time was up, SJ returned to Ireland and went straight back into the cricket season. “But the things I had at Glenwood were better than I had in Ireland. I chatted with my parents over the course of those two months, and then I told them that what I have at Glenwood is better than what I had at home.”

His parents then agreed on SJ continuing his schooling at the Durban school. “It was a big decision. Everything happened within five days. The plane ticket was booked and I was on my way to South Africa.”

Having SJ return to Glenwood was great news for 1st XI coach and Director of Cricket, Brandon Scullard: “Knowing that he was coming back was a big bonus, because I knew that he would be a good leader in this team,” he said.

“He’s a very well-mannered boy and he’s very passionate about the school. For a boy who didn’t start here in grade eight, he has really bought into the tradition and the culture. He ended up being made a school prefect. Just a great boy.”

Besides the better cricket on offer at Glenwood, SJ said being in the hostel had enriched his life. There were the friends he made – “brothers”, he calls them – whom he did not want to leave when it was time to go back to Ireland. And there were also the life skills that hostel life helped him acquire.

“Especially staying here alone, away from my family, has shown me how to become a better person. I am taking that into my cricket too. As I am improving as a person, my cricket seems to be improving as well. I am learning more about myself that I wouldn’t have learnt if I was at home.

“I am also learning how to make my own decisions. With cricket, for example, I can decide to go and train, or I can decide to do nothing. But also on the school side of things, your parents might be pushing you to study. Here I am by myself, so I have to make that decision.”

Rallying the troops: SJ de Klerk encourages the young Glenwood 1st team.

De Klerk enjoys the responsibilities that come with leadership. That love of taking charge began when he was much younger. “As a young boy, I loved being in control and also helping youngsters. It’s a passion of mine. Even now, take the under-14s, for example, I want to leave a legacy with them. They didn’t have a relationship with the first team in the past, but this year we started to implement that. There are things we have introduced into the first team that I want to leave behind too.”

De Klerk’s drive and passion is evident in the tight bond of the 1st cricket side. In 2019, there was a tendency to game plan around the side’s star players, but this year he worked a little differently on the team dynamic, coach Scullard said, and it has produced better results from a side lacking as many big names as it did last season.

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“I have seen this year, with me trying to give a bit more contact time to each individual, and specifying their roles within the team, we’re going to have more success just incorporating everyone, making sure that they know they have a purpose in the team and what their job is.

“It might not get the headlines, but players must know they will get the recognition from me, because I know the job they are doing from the side of the field, which allows someone else to shine, and vice versa. On another day that player will shine and the other player will be doing the hard work.”

He added: “Last year, I felt there were guys skating by on talent, because the side I had was more talented than the side I have this year. But the boys this year are workers and I can see a bit more heart in what they’re doing and the manner in which they’re going about their work.”

De Klerk stated: “The team this year is bonding a lot more. They’re very talented, but a very young side. If you look at the players, they fight hard and they fight for the team. They perform for the school and they play for the badge.

“That was my aim at the beginning of the season, because looking at last year the team was fragmented. This year we are playing so nicely together and we’re fighting together. Everything has fallen into place and we’ve improved.”

Top order batsman Chad Laycock, who made the Dolphins’ Cubs side as a grade 10 learner, is a huge talent.

Life is seldom simple and easy, however, and the season began with a heavy defeat for Glenwood at the Grey College Cricket Festival in Bloemfontein, where they went down to Saint Andrew’s School by 97 runs after Saints’ skipper JD Bruwer scored an unbeaten 131 to guide his side to victory. That, however, was the first and last time in the season that Glenwood allowed a batsman to reach fifty.

In fact, in their remaining matches, only Saint Charles College, with 151 all out, made it past 150. In the remaining five games, Glenwood kept the opposition to 120 or less.

They suffered only one more loss, a defeat to Clifton in the semi-finals of the KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Schools T20 competition. It hurt, but it was also the kind of loss from which one can learn valuable lessons.

Batting first, Clifton managed just 120 all out, with their captain Nabeel Jeewa making 35 and the big hitting Josh Platford 23. Leo Moran knocked over 2 for 14 for Glenwood, Russel Heine took 2 for 21, and captain and wicketkeeper, SJ de Klerk, effected two stumpings.

Recalling his team’s reply, Scullard said: “We were cruising at 83 for 2 and an outstanding piece of fielding got Matt Halstead out. He’s our number four batsman and a matric boy, and then they just seemed to build pressure from one end. I wasn’t too happy about that.”

In the end, Glenwood came up five runs shy of Clifton’s total on 115 for 7, with De Klerk having contributed 42. It was a bitter pill to swallow, Scullard conceded.

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Besides those two setbacks, though, the first term produced fulfilling cricket and results.

The highlight for both captain and coach was a convincing five-wicket victory over Maritzburg College. It wasn’t their best performance of the season, they acknowledged, but the most meaningful win, which is a compliment to College and their sustained success over so many years.

“The last match we played against College was my favourite of the season,” De Klerk smiled. “It was my first win against College. Last year, playing there, we were hammered. To come and play on Dixon’s and to give them back what we received on Goldstone’s was special.

Scullard weighed in: “Beating Maritzburg College is always a big win. We hadn’t beaten them for a while. I started here in 2017 and we hadn’t beaten them in that time.”

The team’s most eye-opening performance of the season came against Northwood, a team that had beaten Glenwood in the fourth term of 2019. “It was almost faultless,” said Scullard.

“Against Maritzburg College, we dropped a few catches, and we lost two wickets with 20 runs to win. We should have won by seven or eight wickets. But the nine-wicket win against Northwood was a resounding victory against a well-drilled team. Divan van Wyk runs a tight ship there at Northwood.”

Happy together: the 2020 Glenwood 1st XI.

One of the other reasons for the success enjoyed by Glenwood was a change brought about by coach Scullard that was not directly about cricket, but which had an important impact on the cricketers. He explained: “I have been a bit harder on the boys, but about things away from cricket: time in the classroom, discipline in the classroom, discipline in the boarding house, making sure that teachers who are interacting with the boys on a daily basis are happy with their behaviour, with the way in which they represent themselves.

“My message to them is that they represent us as a team and me as a coach. I’ve wanted to put life lessons into things, not just worrying about what they do on the field, but also about what they do away from it.

“I am a strong believer that the people they are away from the field has a big impact on the people they are on the field.”

With picture perfect technique, captain SJ de Klerk goes on the drive.

Scullard, who matriculated at Glenwood in 2008, added: “I am a big believer in the traditions and values that we have here at Glenwood. The boys here have fight and the will to go the extra mile. It runs deep in the boys. You can see it in their eyes and you can see it when they’re on the field.”

Echoing his coach, De Klerk concluded: “I always have that drive to never stop fighting and I want to show that to the rest of the boys as well.”

RESULTS

Saint Andrew’s School 296 for 9 (JD Bruwer 131*, Joe Meyer 31)
Glenwood 199 all out (Russel Heine 50, Christian Els 61*, Richard Barnes 2 for 20, Tristan Wylie 2 for 26, Jayden Davids 2 for 34)
Saint Andrew’s won by 97 runs

Glenwood 133 for 6 (Matt Halstead 42, Chad Laycock 28, Banele Cele 27)
Futura 1st XI 115 for 5
Glenwood won by 18 runs

Westville 97 for 8 (Anthony Dunford 25, Russel Heine 3 for 13, Banele Cele 2 for 13)
Glenwood 98 for 4 (Matt Halstead 38, SJ de Klerk 26, Chad Laycock 22)
Glenwood won by 6 wickets

Glenwood 178 all out (SJ. de Klerk 50, Chad Laycock 29, Matt Halstead 26, Tristan Rossouw 20, Keegan Crawford 3 for 48, Andrew Beyrooti 2 for 19, Hayden Raw 2 for 40, Gordon Hill 2 for 22)
Saint Charles 151 all out (Hayden Raw 26, Leo Moran 2 for 12, Christian Els 4 for 25)
Glenwood won by 28 runs

Clifton 120 all out (Nabeel Jeewa 35, Josh Platford 23, Leo Moran 2 for 14, Russel Heine 2 for 21)
Glenwood 115 for 7 (SJ. de Klerk 42, Ronan Vardaya 3 for 22, Marco Mottura 2 for 17)
Clifton won by 5 runs

Maritzburg College 115 all out (Erik Hartman 3 for 24, Banele Cele 2 for 6, Rasen Naidoo 2 for 22, Russel Heine 2 for 23)
Glenwood 119 for 5 (Russel Heine 25, Chad Laycock 24, SJ de Klerk 25*)
Glenwood won by 5 wickets

Northwood 101 all out (Thulani Chiliza 45, Russel Heine 3 for 13, Luke Bowley 2 for 16, Erik Hartman 2 for 19. Christian Els 3 for 9)
Glenwood 102 for 1 (Chad Laycock 47*)
Glenwood won by 9 wickets