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Monday, December 6, 2021

Top Cricket Batsmen Shine At Schools Festival

Theo Garrun

Four schools remained unbeaten at the Independent Schools Cricket Festival at St Alban’s College, writes THEO GARRUN.

Helpmekaar Kollege emerged the standoutteam of the Independent Schools Cricket Festival with three wins and a match washed out by a Highveld thunderstorm.

Three others – Hilton College, St John’s College of Johannesburg and St Andrew’s College of Grahamstown – also avoided an ‘L’ on the scoresheet.

The festival is in its 32nd year and in all but three of those it has been organised and hosted by St Alban’s College. The exceptions were occasions when three of the regular participants made the festival part of their centenary celebrations.

No one is certain why St Alban’s holds such a privileged position for the first-team event, since independent schools festivals in all the other age groups rotate around the country. It seems the festival started as a small event hosted by the Pretoria school and as it grew over the years there has been an agreement that St Alban’s should continue hosting it.

This year, there were 20 schools in action in the four-day tournament, making it the second-biggest festival after the Michaelmas Week which has 24. Games were played at St Alban’s, the University of Pretoria’s LC De Villiers complex and at Cornwall Hill College. The three Johannesburg schools – St John’s, St Stithians and St David’s – hosted two games each.

All three formats of the game were included: time cricket on day one, 50 overs on days two and three and T20 on the final day.

Helpmekaar beat St John’s of Harare, a CSA TAP XI from the Titans region and Cornwall Hill, and had their game against St Andrew’s School abandoned. St Andrew’s of Grahamstown beat St Alban’s and St Benedict’s and drew their game against St John’s (Johannesburg), with the one no-result. St John’s beat Bishops, drew with St Andrew’s and tied with Hilton in their T20 game on Sunday.

Hilton substituted one of their 50-over games with another time cricket encounter and drew against their neighbours, Michaelhouse. They beat St Stithians in the first innings on day one.

Most of the standout performances across the four days came from batsmen. The exception was a remarkable bowling display on day four from Gregory Ford of St John’s (Johannesburg), who took 7-22 off his four overs to help bowl Hilton out for 99 in their T20 encounter. St John’s equalled that total off the last ball of the game and it was decided not to have a super over.

The outstanding batsman of the festival was Dion Myers of St George’s College, Harare. He captained Zimbabwe at the ICC U19 World Cup earlier in the year and showed all that class and experience in notching up two centuries – 128 against St David’s and 155 against St Alban’s. His 155, on the excellent surface at the TC Mitchell Oval at St Alban’s, came off 137 balls and included 24 fours.

Two other centuries were scored: Ethan Kieffer made 152 for Bishops against St Alban’s on day one and followed that up with 58 not out against Michaelhouse on the second day. Liam McCarthy struck 105 for St Stithians against St Andrew’s of Bloemfontein on the Saturday. It was on one of the smallish outer fields at St Alban’s but according to Saints’ coach, Philip Koen, it was one of the best knocks he has seen from McCarthy in what has been a stellar career at the school.

Apart from the four hundreds made, there were a number of big half-centuries. Nicholas Barlow of St Andrew’s College was out on 99 against St John’s on the opening day; Slade van Staden made 77 for Hilton against St Andrew’s College; Travis Norris of Bishops made 73 against St John’s (Johannesburg); Jonathan Miltz of St John’s (Johannesburg) was 59 not out against Bishops; Christiaan Daniels made 61 for the CSA TAP team against St John’s (Harare) and the visitors’ Dane Schadendorf got 63 in the same game; and Arnaud du Plessis of St Alban’s made 77 against St Georges.

St Alban’s director of sport Krinesan Moodley was impressed with the cricket played over the four days. ‘These players are all from private schools and they are used to playing on pristine fields in perfect conditions. It was admirable to see how well they adapted to the varying conditions of the fields and we saw some good performances,’ he said.

‘That we got as much cricket in as we did over four days of almost non-stop rainy weather speaks volumes of the dedication of everyone who contributed to the event. We look forward to next year.’ 

This article appears in the April-June issue of SA Cricket magazine

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