Michael Patchitt: “On my last run I was travelling much too fast and ramped into the (Maritzburg College dormitory) toilets, landing up the wrong way round in a toilet bowl.”
Mark Pearse: “I had to make a secret pact with Graeme and Chris and find out exactly where they would go to have their compulsory smoking session…”
Mike Kidd: “In my experience, cricket scorers’ rooms, especially the one in the scoreboard on Goldstones, made good places for illicit smoking sessions, although, for the record, I was always only a spectator.”
KZN schoolboy cricket – the stuff of legend. Anyone who hasn’t massaged the school rules on occasion please stand up. Ja, thought so.
There was also some cricket – and plench amusing too:
Trevor Edley: “Vaughan (Bradfield) was incredible on the short ball, as his dodgy knees prevented him from moving his feet…”
Mike Kidd: “The Potch fast bowler quickly ran through the Michaelhouse batting order and our horrified player had to go out and face his worst nightmare. First ball he nicked to the keeper, thus preserving bodily integrity but not his batting average.”
John Cheshire: “… realising he might not make the required runs, Alan Adcock attempted to play the very first and only defensive shot of his illustrious innings…”
JUST 4 days away… The 59th annual Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week, hosted as always by Maritzburg College begins on Saturday, September 29 and wraps up on Tuesday, October 2. A remarkable 22 teams and 44 matches.
First XI cricketers over the past 59 years will have fond memories of KZN schoolboy cricket – and Michaelmas. Here’s a recollection from a slightly different, but no less significant, viewpoint:
Everyone who knows will tell you that Professor Michael Kidd of the Law Faculty at the University of KZN Pietermaritzburg campus, whose academic focus includes Environmental Law, Water Law and Administrative Law, is a cricket fan of note.
Featured image: Professor Michael Kidd of the UKZN Pietermaritzburg campus Law Faculty.
Mike is also a writer of note – humour is never far from the surface and is so elegantly expressed.
I loved this, and know you will too.
Over to Mike Kidd:
“Thanks Jono, here goes…
“There’s an old adage – very unfair – that says, ‘Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach’.
Adapting that to school cricket in the 1980s, it could go, ‘Those who can, play; those who can’t, score’.
“Having had boys at high school in recent years, it is clear to me that there are at least two things very different between schools cricket (certainly at lower levels) in the late 70s and early 80s, when I was at school, and now.
“The first is, whatever team a boy plays for, there is almost always a match.
“My son was in the U14J team at College and he had a match nearly every Saturday. When I was at school, if you weren’t in the As or Bs (or 1sts, 2nds or 3rds), matches against other schools were few and far between.
“Consequently, there were many boys who were keen on sport who didn’t have a match to play on Saturdays. Some of them chose to be cricket scorers (as I did), while others (juniors) were pressganged into doing the job.
“The result of the latter was that the standard of scoring was frequently not all that good. I remember one game against Hilton for the U15C team (one of only a few we had the whole season) when we left the field having been told that we had lost. Upon checking the scorebooks, it turned out that we had, in fact, won.
“Today, in the lower teams, most of the scoring is done by the umpires (who are also the coaches) using a clipboard while checking for no-balls and LBWs.
“When I was at Michaelhouse from 1979-1983, I was very keen on cricket but my enthusiasm was a few levels higher than my skill.”
* Editor’s note: Clearly a (very) late developer, Mike’s latent talent was not fully appreciated by the Michaelhouse selection panel: This elegant product of the UKZN PMB Law Faculty went on to play local league cricket and notched his maiden half-century in his 40’s.
Back to Mike: “When I was not playing for the U15Cs, or 5ths (I once got as high as 3rds, but not even we played every weekend) I scored for the first XI – until the end of 1982 – having got the job during my first term as a standard seven (grade 9) boy in 1979.
“Schoolfriends would often ask me if I was mad giving up my entire Saturday to watch a cricket match and, what’s more, record what was happening in the match with not a little responsibility for the outcome! But I loved it – meeting interesting people, amusing people with the comments I wrote in the scorebooks, travelling to interesting places and watching some great cricket as well.
“During my Michaelhouse first XI scoring career, members of opposition teams who would later become provincial, national – and in some cases international – names in cricket or rugby (or both) included Paul Rayner (Hilton); Robin Smith and Hugh Reece-Edwards (Northlands); Gerbrand Grobler, Joubert Strydom, Helgard Muller and Hansie Cronje’s older brother Frans Cronje (Grey Bloem); Trevor Packer (Alex); Dave Callaghan, Vlam Michau and Brian Lones (Grey PE); Cameron Oliver and Andrew Hudson, Mark Pearse, Ant Hall (Kearsney); and Craig Norris (KES), among others.
My first game scoring for the firsts was at King Edward VII School (KES) on a short tour to Johannesburg. Chasing an imposing 247 to win in less than ideal time, I was fortunate to witness Mick Tingle hit 94 in 70 minutes, hitting sixes to all areas of the ground and nearly taking out a few spectators, although it was not enough to win the match, Michaelhouse reaching a credible 229 with a couple of wickets in hand at the close. In those days there was very little limited-overs cricket. Declaration cricket was the norm.
“And during that much I struck up a friendship with the KES scorer, and we are still friends 40 years later!”
* Jono says: Then came a one-on-one tussle, between a Michaelhouse fast bowler and a Hilton College batsman (the nature of which just about every schoolboy cricketer could cite a similar example from his own era).
Over to Mike Kidd again:
“Shortly after the Jo’burg tour and the KES match, Michaelhouse hosted Hilton at what is now called the Roy Gathorne Oval. We had a tall, quick, opening bowler who was also a Natal Schools rugby lock, Colin van Heerden. Batting for Hilton was Paul Rayner, who later had a long first-class career with Natal and Western Province.
“Van Heerden pinned Rayner on the head with a short ball. Fortunately for Rayner, these were the early days of helmets, and he was unhurt. Van Heerden bowled another bouncer, whereupon Rayner deposited the ball over the railway line that skirts the Oval at Michaelhouse.
“An annual highlight was Michaelmas Week (now Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week), hosted by Maritzburg College in the September/October vacation. Schools from all over the country came to Pietermaritzburg to play against the invited KZN sides.
“In 1979, Michaelhouse were playing Potchefstroom Boys’ High at a field across the Dusi River called Tinneyland, which is no longer, due to its incorporation into the Camps Drift canal. Mike Patchitt, the Michaelhouse first XI captain, has the following recollection of that week. This is a story I have only recently heard, since I was staying at a friend’s house that week:
“A few of us got back to the dormitory at Maritzburg College after a few beers ,” says the skipper Mike Patchitt, “and proceeded to start duckdiving in the UPSTAIRS showers which was a long narrow passage with the toilets at the far end.
“Everyone got a bit too excited and the speed at which we slid along the floor increased at an alarming rate. In order to get our speed up we had to use a lot of water and soap outside the showers.
“On my last run I was travelling much too fast and ramped into the toilets, landing up the wrong way round in a toilet bowl. I hobbled to bed but was woken at 4am by Driver Thompson – the late Mike Thompson, Michaelhouse legend and then coach of the Michaelhouse first team.
“As captain of the team I was asked to explain who had flooded the downstairs dormitories. All the cricket coaches had spent 3 hours cleaning up. I did mention that a number of boys were involved in the incident.
“The next day we played against Potch and as a result of my injury could hardly walk, let alone open the bowling. Driver simply smiled and said nothing. No further action was taken and I respect him for that. What a let-off!!!!!”
Back to Mike Kidd:
“The team may have been let off for the duckdiving, but the cricket against Potch was not forgiving. After Potch had made a respectable score, we went in. The Potch fast bowler was very quick indeed – probably faster than any of our team had seen before.
“One of our players in the middle order (no names) spent the entire innings verbally expressing his anxiety (I’m being kind here – it was probably closer to dread) at having to face Dustin.
“Anyway, Dustin ran through the order fairly quickly and our horrified player had to go out and face his worst nightmare. First ball he nicked to the keeper, thus preserving bodily integrity but not his batting average. Dustin ended up with 8 wickets and Potch won comfortably.
“My other abiding memories are from 1982, when I was in matric and most of the team were contemporaries of mine. Gordon Paterson, the Michaelhouse coach, who had just returned to the school after a two-year sabbatical at Stellenbosch:
Gordon Paterson recalls: “I had just returned from two seasons under the guidance of Eddie Barlow, so I was determined that we would play to win and not play not to lose.
“It was a thoroughly enjoyable season of cricket with a capable team.”
Back to Prof Kidd:
“Under the captaincy of Murray ‘Mugs’ Stewart, we lost only once to another Natal team in a regular game (we also lost to Hilton in a limited-overs game under lights).
“This loss in a regular declaration fixture was the match late in the year against Kearsney. I wasn’t on duty that game because we in the 5ths had a game against Kearsney on Meadows, at the other end of the school.
“When our game ended (we won), I went up to the Oval to catch the end of the first team game. When I arrived, the stumps had been drawn and everything was over. I found my substitute scorer, and the scorebook made rather dismal reading (from a Michaelhouse perspective).
“Kearsney had declared on 209 for 2, with Mark Pearse out on 99 – he told me later he had tried to tickle a Graeme Hurlbatt delivery down to third man, only succeeding in feathering a catch behind – and Andrew Hudson on 76 not out.
“Michaelhouse in response managed to muster only 67, with Anthony Hall taking 8 for 27. Both Hudson and Hurlbatt made the Natal Schools side that year, with Hudson of course eventually playing for South Africa at Test match level (35 Tests and 89 ODIs).
Note from Jono: In 1982 Ant Hall was absolutely unplayable on the AH Smith Oval at Kearsney, zipping the ball off the seam prodigiously. Indeed, so marked was the movement that most of us weren’t good enough to nick-off. Clearly Ant found the Michaelhouse pitch much to his liking as well.
Back to Prof Kidd: “Another memorable game where I wasn’t scorer took place at Goldstones in February of that 1982 year. I was playing for Michaelhouse 5ths on Papes (now the Maritzburg College hockey Astro), on a matting wicket. Having scored a royal duck, I attempted to atone with the ball.
“I bowled the College captain with one that hit the edge of the mat and cut in about a metre-and-a-half to take out off stump. But a College batsman, who looked as if he was a first team prop, cleaned up and we lost quite early in the afternoon.
“I walked down to Basher Ridge on Goldstones to watch the first team game. When I arrived, it looked as though Michaelhouse had it wrapped up.
“Michaelhouse had declared on 153 for 4, with Chris Newson (unlucky not to make Natal Schools, in my opinion) contributing 72 not out. College were in all sorts of trouble, 9 down with less than 100 on the board.
“Nobody had told Maritzburg College’s last batsman, the very swift fast bowler Alan Adcock (son of SA fast bowling great Neil), that the game was over, however. Alan (tall, and a very good golfer) got stuck into the bowling, particularly Hurlbatt; not in an agricultural manner, but by playing some wonderful drives. The ace Michaelhouse fast bowler kept looking for the yorker and number 11 batter Adcock kept driving – with uncommon grace and timing – piercing the covers or straight back past the increasingly frustrated Hurlbatt.”
Jono says: “I remember like yesterday the supreme competitor (to put a ridiculously mild spin on it) that is Graeme Hurlbatt steaming in from the College Road End in the gathering gloom and working up a fearsome pace as he sought to finish what he had started. I was out early and so relieved that it was now Alan facing and not me. There were quite a few Hurlbatt verbals thrown Alan’s way.”
Back to the Prof: “With the Michaelhouse total in sight, John Cheshire, the Michaelhouse spinner, was reintroduced to the attack:”
Over to John Cheshire: “Mugs (captain Murray Stewart), for whatever reason, entrusted me to bowl what was the final over of the day. College (Adcock) needed 14 to win.
“(Alan) Adcock swung and missed at my first 2 deliveries and then, realising he might not make the required runs, attempted to play the very first and only defensive shot of his illustrious innings, only for ball to go between bat and pad and clean bowled!”
Jono says: John that hurt, as I thought we (by ‘we’, read Alan Adcock) had dragged the impossible out of the fire.
OK, back to Professor Mike: “Alan Adcock was eventually dismissed for 42 and Michaelhouse had won by 13 runs.
“Exactly a month later in that 1982 year, Alexandra came up to Michaelhouse. There was a lot of moisture in the air and I assume Michaelhouse won the toss and put Alex in.
“Hurlbatt got 4 wickets with Stuart Blacklaw and Jesse Chellan getting 3 apiece, to have Alex back in the hut for 55. Alex struck back, however, and all of the Michaelhouse batsmen who usually scored runs were out with the target still some way off.
“The prospect of an unexpected defeat loomed large. Alex fast bowler Mark Iveson (Jono says, extremely swift, trust me) whom captain Greg Visick described as “a bowler who gave me everything I asked” and was unfortunate not to make Natal Schools, took 4 wickets.
“Enter Graeme Elgie, who showed the previous batsmen how to handle the conditions, ending with 49 and taking Michaelhouse safely to 111. Alex were put in for a second innings, mustering 77.
“One of the most exciting games in which I was involved as scorer was against DHS, at Michaelhouse. We scored 157 for 8, leaving DHS 150 minutes to score 158 for victory.
“As Michaelhouse first XI coach Gordon Paterson observed in the school magazine: ‘At 57 for 1 at tea and 100 for 4 at 4.45pm, they [DHS] were well placed for victory’.”
Recalls Trevor Edley, the 1982 DHS captain and Natal Schools’ cricketer of his DHS team-mate Vaughan Bradfield (the brilliant hockey player): “Vaughan opened the batting in this game to devastating effect and was setting us up for victory.
“Vaughan was incredible on the short ball, as his dodgy knees prevented him from moving his feet; remarkable in that he would become one of the outstanding South Africans on the hockey field.
“He fell just short of his 50 and Hurlbatt came back into the attack to take a further 3 wickets (he took 5 overall), leaving things on a knife’s edge. Overs were running out and DHS were closing in, but with only one wicket left. All three results were still a possibility when Chellan bowled Andrew Butler to leave Michaelhouse victors by 3 runs.”
Back to Professor Mike: “At the end of Offord Week, when the Natal Schools’ team was selected, I was fortunate to be asked to score for them in a warm-up game at Kingsmead against a Natal Country Districts side.
“I knew about half the Natal Schools side quite well, since there were three Michaelhouse representatives (Neil Thompson, Graeme Hurlbatt and John Cheshire) and three players who had been at Highbury with me; Mark Pearse, the captain, and Paul Logan (also from Kearsney), and Chris Copland from Hilton (more about them in the next paragraph).
“This was my last game as scorer at school (I scored for a few of my sons’ games 30 years later as a coerced spectator!) and it was the only time ever that one of the players (no names) came into the scorers’ room during lunch to change his bowling figures.
“I noticed the alterations and tidied everything up after lunch, but it was something that I had never expected!
“Four of the Natal players were selected for SA Schools in 1982: Graeme Hurlbatt and Chris Copland were the SA Schools opening bowlers that year, Mark Pearse and David Pfaff, the opening batsman from Hilton College, who was also an SA Schools hockey striker, also made the team.
Natal Schools captain Mark Pearse recalls: ““It was no secret that leading up to Nuffield Week, Graeme and Chris were going to be a devastating new ball pairing.
“They certainly didn’t disappoint and destroyed a number of the other sides. Ant Lovell (Hilton College legend) was our coach and we always liked to have a team meeting the night before a game to dissect the opposition the next day.
“Obviously, the time would change depending on everyone’s availability. I had to make a secret pact with Graeme and Chris and find out exactly where they would go to have their compulsory smoking session.
“If Ant Lovell called a meeting, I would rush off to Chris and Graeme in the agreed smoking area and hand out some spearmint chewing gun to dilute the smell of cigarettes! Great memories and superb characters.”
Back to Professor Michael Kidd: “From my experience, scorers’ rooms, especially the one in the scoreboard on Goldstones, made good places for illicit smoking sessions, although, for the record, I was always only a spectator.
“I suppose that a young cricket enthusiast who is now at a well-resourced school has ample opportunity to play cricket almost every weekend, so the option of scoring is not so common anymore.
“All the same, I’m glad that I had the opportunity with the scorebook. Those memories are as vivid as those of any matches in which I played.”
# Cheers Mike, having also been in matric in 1982, your recollections have sparked a dozen – and more – memories of that special time. Thank you. Magic stuff.
Notes from Jono:
The colourful Graeme Hurlbatt:
* Bulawayo-born, came to Michaelhouse from the then family home in Swaziland, made SA Schools cricket, was a (frightening, trust me) Michaelhouse first team hockey centre forward that no-one wanted to mark (trust me), played cricket for Natal B and Scotland. Graeme, who was nicknamed Captain Marvel by one of his UK clubs, played and coached in Scotland and Ireland with great success for the better part of 3 decades.
Alan Adcock’s dad:
* Alan Adcock’s dad, Neil Adcock, was the first South African fast bowler to take 100 Test wickets. He used his height to make the ball lift alarmingly off a length. On the Springboks’ tour to England in 1960, Adcock was a revelation, brushing off the controversy surrounding his new-ball partner, DHS Old Boy Geoff Griffin – who was no-balled for throwing – to take 26 wickets in the Tests, even though South Africa lost the series 3-0. On that England tour, Adcock took 108 wickets for the Springboks at an average of 14 and was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.
As you can see from this 1956 British Pathé newsreel filmed on day 1 of the first Test between the Springboks and England at Ellis Park, cricket in South Africa was a box office event drawing capacity crowds. During a purple patch, Jeppe Old Boy Neil Adcock and Peter Heine – one of the great new-ball partnerships – took 98 wickets between them in 12 Tests. Neil later became a popular cricket commentator.