Saints get it right on Goldstones

As St Charles College first XI head coach Lucky Dladla put it, the City Derby always brings excitement and buzz to the KZN capital.

And so it was this past Saturday when the Maritzburg College first XI hosted Saints in a 50-over match on Goldstones, an intense, absorbing cricket contest in which the Saints prevailed by 28 runs.

They certainly had to work hard for it, as the boys in Red Black and White hooped caps were handily placed at times.

Feature photo: Saints skipper Jason Muirhead raises his bat for his 50 on the way to a match-defining 88 on Goldstones Saturday. Photo: Justin Waldman Sports Photography

“The morning overhead conditions were conducive for bowling,” said Dladla. “Maritzburg College won the toss, and without any doubt elected to bowl first. Their opening bowlers [Bryn Brokensha and Matthew Ponter] ran in and bowled superbly well, beating the bat on numerous occasions.”

It wasn’t too long before they made in-roads into the Saints batting line-up.

“Daniel Wassenaar, was the first to go, bowled by a brilliant yorker,” said Dladla. “Soon after his dismissal, the second wicket ( Sam Brown) fell.”

With Saints 21 for 2 after 9 overs, the home side were well on top.

The in-form Saints captain Jason Muirhead made his way to the wicket and started to build the Saints innings by rotating the strike and putting away the bad ball to the boundary.

“The 3rd wicket stand between Muirhead and wicketkeeper/batsman Ntando Zuma saw Saints recover considerably and the Saints were 97 for 2 after 25 overs, and morning tea.

“The pair continued steadily and had a 114-run partnership before Zuma was bowled for 54 runs, in the 40th over of the 50.”

Muirhead fell short of what coach Dladla feels would have been a well-deserved 100 when he was bowled on 88 runs. The Saints were a competitive 216 for 6 after 50 overs and had set a defendable total. It was a fine effort after the shaky start.

“Maritzburg College began the chase with intent,” said coach Dladla, himself a Maritzburg College Old Boy and former first XI cricketer.

The Saints Zulu teacher and cricket coach said that the game was in the balance at afternoon tea with Maritzburg College on 97 for 2 after 25 overs.

The home side needed another 120 at just under 5 to the over and were well placed with 8 wickets in hand.

Saints were as well aware as their opponents that the last session of the day was key to both sides.

“The battle continued, and disciplined bowling by Saints tightened the screws,” said Dladla. “The pressure mounted, and College wickets started to fall.”

The Saints coach added: “A brilliant spell by Tahir Khonat (match figures of three for 48) sealed the victory for Saints. Maritzburg College were eventually restricted to 188 all out, St Charles College winning by 28 runs.”

# For the St Charles College first XI to claim victory over the Maritzburg College first XI on Goldstones is certainly a feather in the cap of the current side captained by Jason Muirhead.

Prior to Saturday, of the nine matches since 2016, Saints had won three and College had won three, with three matches ending in draws or being abandoned due to the weather. Saturday’s win is Saints’ first on Goldstones during this time period.

The three previous Saints first XI victories since 2016 had been on the St Charles College Oval, the PMB Oval in Alexandra Park, and at the main cricket oval of the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus’s Peter Booysen Sports Park.

Saints’ time at the first-grade Rondebosch Festival during the second week of January, where they lost 5 from 5 to Bishops (3 wickets, declaration game), PBHS (2 wickets, declaration), Affies (6 wickets, 50-over), Rondebosch (12 runs, 50-over) and Wynberg (52 runs, T20) appears to have been time well spent.

The maturity they have exhibited over the past fortnight in beating visitors Glenwood (by 6 wickets) and now Maritzburg College shows that lessons were learned in Cape Town and are being applied in the domestic season.

First XI captain Jason Muirhead has been the outstanding performer over the last two weeks with his 73 against Glenwood on the St Charles College Cricket Oval and now Saturday’s 88 against Maritzburg College on Goldstones.

Jason’s 91 against Rondebosch in Cape Town is regarded by St Charles as his best knock to date.

Jason’s intent, and ability, to occupy the crease and treat each ball on its merits has been the core that has bound the two successful St Charles innings together over the past fortnight.

With the support of Matthew Urquhart’s 39 against Glenwood, Jason has also been instrumental in putting the match-defining partnership together, and then again on Goldstones, this time with wicketkeeper and middle-order batsman Ntando Zuma, who made 54.

The team line-up of Marcel Wellmann, Daniel Wassenaar, Sam Brown, Jason Muirhead, Urquhart, Ntando Zuma, Brendon Sunguro, Nathan Beaumont, Tahir Khonat, Tim Schoeman and Sam Ndlovu has also remained unchanged these past 2 weeks.

Seamers Tim Schoeman (3 for 30 vs Glenwood) and in particular Tahir Khonat (6 wickets for 82 runs over the past 2 matches), have also played significant roles with the ball, as has relatively inexperienced off-spinner Brendon Sunguro.

The other members of the side will have further opportunity come more prominently to the fore in due course.

Of course, much the same applies to all the teams and individuals in KZN.

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