Hope for College cricket

2014-10-28 00:00

TO many youngsters, cricket appears a boring game — too slow and not worth sacrificing precious weekend time for.

It is rare to find a young player who puts his heart and soul into the game, but within the walls of Maritzburg College, such a phenomenon exists.

Brad Hope is only 15 years old and in Grade 9, yet he plays for College’s 1st cricket team, recognised as one of their foremost, perhaps best batsmen. Talking to him, it is heartening to listen to a boy who lives for the game; who has a deep seed of passion for what it brings to him planted in his soul.

“My uncle Graham Boucher saw I had a talent for the game when I was about five or six years old and he started giving me lessons,” said Brad.

It was a talent well recognised. Attending primary school at DPHS (Durban), Brad played for the 1st team in Grade 6 and 7, breaking the record for the most runs scored in a season when he knocked up 1 202 in 2012.

“My highest score was 141 against Lynwood,” said the right-hander who normally bats at three or four.

Arriving at College last year, he played for the U14A side in the first term and made six appearances later in the year for the U15A team.

“For the last two games of the season, I was in the 1st team,” said Brad. “My debut was against Glenwood, in Durban, batting at five. My first ball I faced was from Andile Phehlukwayo, the SA U19 and now Dolphins player.”

That was a massive moment for Brad, who has no second thoughts in saying he wants to make a living from playing cricket.

“I only found out the day before the match I would be making my debut. I was so nervous I could not sleep, but getting my cap before the game started was a moment to remember.”

Brad gave an indication of his rare talent by finishing on 38* in his maiden first team innings.

“It took me 11 balls to get that first run and I came in for some stick from the fielders,” he said. “On the field next to us, the U14’s were playing and I was told a few times I should be playing there.”

Since then, Brad has let his bat do the talking. He has been a regular in the first side this year, but is still looking for that elusive century.

“My best is 97* against Westville on Goldstones and that 100 is something I want sooner rather than later,” he said.

Despite not making three figures, such is Brad’s consistency with the bat he is within reach of leaving his mark on College as one of their cricket greats.

“I have just passed 1 000 runs for the first team in a calandar year, averaging about 51. I’m keen to beat the all-time record for the first team of about 1 380 runs set by Jonty Rhodes,” said Brad. “I have six matches to get there.”

That was last week when Brad was sitting on 1 005 runs, heading into the weekend’s match against Kearsney. He got 63 to boost his total to 1 068, with a handful of matches to go.

“The final match … is a T20, but I would like to possibly set a new record before that, in the proper school format of 50 overs,” he said.

It is grand stuff and as rosy as it is to see such a talent coming through, there is a downside hurting a South African cricket follower.

“My family emigrates to Perth, Australia, in January. My dream is to play cricket for South Africa, but who knows what will go down in Australia,” he said.

Surely this precocious talent, which belongs to South Africans, cannot be allowed to be harvested by one of our fiercest cricketing rivals?

Time will tell but, for the moment, let us appreciate his gift and what he could be about to achieve within the annals of College cricket.

More on Hope

• Can bowl as well and is used as first change, quick bowler by College.

• Besides normal team practices, he works on his game on his own most of the time, getting his mind right.

• Batting is his main focus, but he enjoys bowling because, if he fails in one, he can make up for it in the other.

• Has a ritual when preparing to bat — left shoe, right shoe, left pad, right pad, left glove, right glove.

• Always has to be sitting down when the first ball of a match is bowled.

• Has a certain spot in the College stands where he sits before batting. Does not like distractions and gets into the zone.

• Made the KZN Inland U15 side last year and the U19 Inland trials this year.

• At primary school made the KZN U11 side and the U13 side twice.

• Has played club cricket for Berea Rovers second side.

Hope lifestyle

• Plays hockey for College U16A side.

• Follows rugby — Sharks and Springboks.

• Watches TV sport channels.

• Not a kitchen mechanic and the best he can offer is a toasted sandwich.

• Favourite meal is a medium steak or meaty pizza.

• Reads sport biographies.

• Enjoys movies, especially action.

• Listens to all music types.

Favourite cricket memory

Making his first team debut — the nerves, the excitement and representing College

Worst memory

Getting injured and not being able to play.

Cricket hero

Jacques Kallis.

Advice to youngsters:

“Believe in yourself and work hard to achieve your goals. In sport, it’s importrant to accept the highs with the lows.”

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