Menlo Park pip Hilton boys to win Schools’ T20 title

2015-02-24 00:00

AFTER 16 matches played over three days in beautiful Stellenbosch, it came down to the last ball of the tournament.

And it was Titans franchise winners Menlo Park who emerged as champions of South Africa late on Sunday afternoon with a two-run win over Dolphins franchise winners Hilton College in a nerve-jangling final of the Coca-Cola Schools’ T20 Nationals, a competition that had started with over 900 teams and over 11 000 players in the mix.

The Pretoria school also won the inaugural tournament in 2010 with a two-run win over Maritzburg College. No KZN school has ever won the title.

In short, Menlo Park made 124 for the loss of four wickets in their allotted 20 overs with Thinus Viljoen’s 62 and Dean Foxcroft’s 40 the mainstay. The ­consistent Hilton College bowler Rourke Lauryssen took three for 31. In reply, and in front of scores of old boys, Hilton reached 122 for five with Angus Curtis (52) and Julian Yeats (34) both being brilliantly run out at critical moments by SA U19 player Foxcroft.

“We did just about everything right except win the trophy. Our fielding and running between the wickets, as ­examples, were brilliant, but in hindsight [Gavin] Morris should have gone in to bat earlier,” Hilton College coach and ­director of cricket Neil Johnson told The Witness.

“Morris is our AB de Villiers in that you want to him to face as many deliveries as possible, but the reason was that we lost an early wicket and I didn’t want the skipper to bat in the power play where he might be forced to take unnecessary risks.”

Johnson saw big positives in many areas. “Curtis held the innings together and I felt his inning was the best of the tournament. Every team who won matches batted first, other than in two of the 16 matches, so for us to come so close, in the final, batting under huge pressure in the biggest games of these boys’ lives, was absolutely outstanding.”

Hilton College director of sport Shane Gaffney was pleased at the quality of cricket his first XI played. “Our aim is to help the boys develop a skill set that can be successfully applied in all formats of the game, from T20 to 50-over and further.”

After the Independent Schools’ Festival at St Alban’s in Pretoria this week, Hilton have a couple more matches before the focus turns to their England tour in June, where they will play in two prestigious events, the Silk Trophy and the Tonbridge Festival, alongside top schools such as Eton and Millfield.

• Jonathan Cook was in Stellenbosch by invitation of Hilton College.

Hilton College first XI: Angus Curtis, Julian Yeats, Daniel Hirschowitz, Gavin Morris (capt), Matthew Dahl, Jonathan Jewels, Ethan Bosch, Marthinus Grobler, Rourke Lauryssen, Tim Copland, Craig Krog, Ross Yammin.

HILTON COLLEGE T20 SCORES

Friday: Grey College (Knights) 195/3 (Wihan Victor 114 off 52 balls). Hilton College (Dolphins) 79. Grey won by 116 runs.

Hilton College 175/3 (Gavin Morris 52*, Angus Curtis 46, Jonty Jewels 45). Volkskool Potchefstroom (Lions) 119 (Rourke Lauryssen 2-18). Hilton College won by 56 runs.

Saturday: Menlo Park (Titans) 162/4 (Julian Yeats 2/18). Hilton College 134/8 (Morris 36). Menlo won by 28 runs.

Hilton College 157/8 (Morris 38, Matt Dahl 30). Paarl Boys’ High (Cobras) 123/9 (Lauryssen 4-27, Ethan Bosch 3-21). Hilton College won by 34 runs.

Sunday: St Andrew’s Grahamstown (Warriors) 94/5 (Bosch 2-22). Hilton College 98/7 (Yeats 26). Hilton College won by three wickets.

FINAL: Menlo Park 124/4 (Thinus Viljoen 62, Dean Foxcroft 40; Lauryssen 3-31). Hilton College 122/5 (Curtis 52, Yeats 34). Menlo Park won by two runs.

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