Schools’ Pro20 Challenge a success

2011-03-01 00:00

LAST week’s Standard Bank Schools’ Pro20 Challenge came to a thrilling climax when Hoërskool Waterkloof from the Titans beat Hoërskool Noordkaap of the Knights in a super over, after the two teams tied the final.

The final was the culmination of a five-month process. More than 600 schools entered the competition and week by week these were whittled down to six schools, representing the six franchises, which travelled to Stellenbosch­ for the national finals.

The boys were kitted out in the colours of their franchises and three of the matches at the finals were shown live on SuperSport, with the first match of the tournament, between Wynberg Boys’ High (Cape Cobras) and Grey High (Warriors), being played at Sahara Park Newlands as a curtain-raiser to the Pro20 match between the two senior franchise teams.

“The chance to play at Newlands was fantastic and it was amazing to be live on TV,” said Grey High captain Eddie Moore.

Although Grey failed to win a single match at the finals, there was no doubt that the players had the time of their lives.

“I’ve never stayed in a hotel before,” said one player. “We got all that kit and we were treated like VIPs. I wish I was still in Grade 11 so that I could play again next year.”

Standard Bank’s cricket sponsorship comes to an end after the ICC Cricket World Cup currently under way in the subcontinent, but Cricket South Africa (CSA) youth manager Niels Momberg says talks with potential sponsors are under way and it is hoped that the tournament will continue next year.

“It has been a great success,” said Momberg. “It has grown from about 340 schools last year to more than 600 this year and we would like to grow it even more.

“There was some fantastic cricket during the finals weekend and most matches were very close. It is interesting that two schools, which are fairly new to cricket, ended up in the final, with more established cricket schools such as King Edward VII School (Kes) and Maritzburg College, did not. I don’t think that means that standards are going down in the cricket schools —– I think it means that the other schools are catching up.”

Momberg said the more competition there is among schools, the better the chances are of identifying talent.

“There were some very talented players in the finals,” he said. “Players like JP Kok (Waterkloof), Diego Rosier (Noordkaap), Quinton de Kock (Kes) and Calvin Savage (Maritzburg) are on the road to greater things.”

He said Noordkaap was the success story of the tournament. Having finished last in the 2010 finals, they surprised everyone by beating Grey High School and Wynberg Boys’ High School and finishing on top of their pool.

“Their coach told me they had travelled 3 000 kms since the beginning of the year to get some good cricket competition. There is no one nearby, apart from Grey College in Bloemfontein, so they have travel to other areas to play competitive matches.

“They are also a success story in that they have a truly integrated team, with five or six players of colour. They have come through the local development programmes and are a feather in Griquas’ cap.”

All the schools that qualified for the final received a cash prize to go towards cricket development, with Waterkloof­ receiving R100 000 for winning. There is no doubt that schools around South Africa will be hoping that CSA find a sponsor for a competition that has caught their imagination. — Own Correspondent.

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