Schoolboy cricket at its best this weekend

2015-09-30 06:00

THE 56th edition of the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week takes place from Saturday, October 3 to next Tuesday, October 6 and promises much camaraderie among the players and coaches as well as a high level of play.

A total of 36 matches will be jam-packed into four days of schoolboy cricket at its best at venues in and around the KZN capital.

This prestigious festival, sponsored once again by cricket aficionado Jonathan Oppenheimer, features a number of the best schoolboy first XI teams in the country.

Long-time hosts Maritzburg College, plus KZN schools Clifton, DHS, Hilton, Kearsney, Michaelhouse, Northwood and Westville take on Hudson Park (East London), Affies and Pretoria Boys’ High, as well as Johannesburg’s Jeppe, St John’s, St Stithians and King Edward VII School (KES), plus Bloemfontein’s Grey College and Grahamstown’s St Andrew’s College. A welcome feature is that of the 18th team, the CSA TAP Invitational XI.

A popular recent introduction at Oppenheimer Week is the determination to take the cricket into the country, and Richmond Country Club as well as Eston Country Club play host to matches on all four days, while Michaelhouse and Hilton College stage matches on the final day.

While it is a festival of cricket, the competition is unrelenting amongst a host of teams who enjoy a long-standing rivalry.

Maritzburg College face the powerful St Stithians XI on Saturday before meeting Grey College, Affies and St Andrew’s on the remaining days of this the oldest cricket week in South Africa.

Goldstones is the College fortress and the players who participated last year will be itching to turn the tables on Affies and St Andrew’s in particular. Last year, Affies won a nerve-wracking encounter by four runs and on the final day College once again contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when they lost to St Andrew’s at Richmond.

If history is a yardstick, a number of the cricketers taking part in the 56th edition of this cricketing landmark are destined for higher honours post-school. AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis (Affies), Hashim Amla, Barry Richards, Lance Klusener (DHS), Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronjé (Grey College), Ali Bacher, Graham Smith (KES), Jonty Rhodes and Kevin Pietersen (Maritzburg College) are just some of the luminaries that have enriched this festival.

Given the 50-over format and a mandatory 16 overs to the hour, the cricket is focused and intense throughout. Tuesday offers the ­option of T20 cricket for those ­travelling long distances home, while 50-over matches may also be played on the last day by mutual consent.

FIXTURES

Saturday (50-over): Clifton vs Hudson Park (Barns); CSA TAP Invitational XI vs Affies (TBA); DHS vs Jeppe (Richmond); Hilton vs KES (Eston); Kearsney vs PBHS (St Charles); Maritzburg College vs St Stithians (Goldstones); Michaelhouse vs St John’s (Varsity Oval); Northwood vs Grey College (Varsity 2); Westville vs St Andrew’s (Collegians).

Sunday (50-over): Clifton vs Affies (Eston); CSA TAP Invitational XI vs St John’s (Richmond); Hilton vs St Stithians (St Charles); DHS vs PBHS (Varsity Oval); Kearsney vs St Andrew’s (Varsity 2); Maritzburg College vs Grey College (Goldstones); Michaelhouse vs Hudson Park (Collegians); Northwood vs Jeppe (Barns); Westville vs KES (TBA).

Monday (50-over): Clifton vs PBHS (Varsity 2); CSA TAP Invitational XI vs KES (Collegians); DHS vs Hudson Park (St Charles); Hilton vs Grey College (TBA); Kearsney vs St John’s (Barns); Maritzburg College vs Affies (Goldstones); Michaelhouse vs St Andrew’s (Eston); Northwood vs St Stithians (Richmond); Westville vs Jeppe (Varsity Oval).

Tuesday (T20/50-over optional): Clifton vs St Stithians (TBA); CSA TAP Invitational XI vs Grey College (Barns); DHS vs St Johns (Varsity 2); Hilton vs Jeppe (Hilton); Kearsney vs Hudson Park (Richmond); Maritzburg College vs St Andrews (Goldstones); Michaelhouse vs Affies (Michaelhouse); Northwood vs KES (Varsity Oval); Westville vs PBHS (Eston).

Hours of play: 9h30-11h00; 11h15-12h45; 13h45-15h15; 15h30 to end of prescribed overs

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