Hilton end it on high

2015-03-17 00:00

WHILE it may have been Friday the 13th, Hilton College’s 1st cricket team refused to let bad luck hamper their defence of the Schools’ Night League against ­Maritzburg College at the Pietermaritzburg Oval.

As it transpired, Hilton signed off their season in fine style, winning by 109 runs against an out of sorts College team who struggled to settle at the crease.

Hilton captain Gavin Morris had the luck of the coin and batted first, his openers Angus Curtis and Julian Yeats setting the tone with 41 for the first wicket.

This allowed the incoming batsmen to play their strokes, none more so than Dan Hirschowitz (78 from 106 balls) and all-rounder Ethan Bosch (47 from 66 balls) who added 106 from 114 balls for the fourth wicket.

This effectively set the match up for Hilton and with Curtis’s 23, the defending champions reached a competitive 222-6 in their 45 overs. For College, Jean de Wet claimed 3-49 in nine overs.

At the crease, College were strangled from the start, skipper Bryce Tullis ­departing in the first over, a scenario from which they never recovered.

Bosch backed up his batting with 2-20 in seven overs and spinner Hirschowitz chipped in with 2-14 in eight tight overs.

Scott Steenkamp, playing his first big match for the College 1st team, was ­composed and impressive in top scoring with 42, his effort not to be underestimated in a College total of 113 all out.

“I thought we bowled well and there were two run outs that, had they gone our way, would have restricted Hilton’s total as it was the batsmen who made telling contributions,” said College coach Mike Smith. “Our batting was not good enough with too many run outs and poor options. Steenkamp though, was impressive.”

Hilton coach Neil Johnson could not have asked for a better finale to the ­season.

“A superb way to end a great season. The boys worked together as a team and put all the pieces together,” he said. “We batted well although we thought we were a few runs short, then the frontline ­bowlers struck early, building pressure.

“Our fielding was on the mark, three or four run outs testament to what ­keeping the title meant to the boys.”

At the post match prizegiving, ­Hirschowitz was man of the match, ­Hilton’s Matthew Dahl was bowler of the ­tournament for his nine scalps in four matches and Curtis was batsman of the tournament and man of the series for his 205 runs at 68.3, which included 108 against Michaelhouse, the only century in the series.

Johnson is not wrong in praising his lads. It has been a tremendous season for Hilton who, besides winning with regularity on the KZN schools’ cricket circuit, kept the night series trophy and represented the Dolphins at the national schools’ T20 finals in Stellenbosch last month.

“Playing in that tournament has ­undoubtedly been the highlight of the season,” said Johnson. “Being the Inland champions, then seeing off coastal ­champions Glenwood in the KZN final, gave us belief heading for the Cape.”

Keeping momentum and confidence at a high, Hilton reached the final in ­Stellenbosch, losing off the final ball against Menlo Park.

“It may have been a loss, but we were more than proud of what we had done and where we found ourselves,” said Johnson. “Again, it was a case of the boys doing the work, appreciating the ­opportunity they had and getting down to business when it counted.”

As coach of the team, Johnson has been moulding the side in the last couple of years, creating a winning culture and brand of cricket with a bunch of talented players.

“Of course you need solid players for a coach to work with and we have reached a level where the boys know what to do, how to approach a match and how to deal with situations,” he said. “When next season starts, Morris, Bosch, Curtis and quick bowler Tim Copeland will all be in the ranks, with some talented U16 boys coming through.”

Ahead lies a three-week tour to ­England in June/July, Hilton playing against Eton and Harrow among others.

“We play declaration and limited overs matches on beautiful grounds at magnificent venues and I know the ­Hilton boys, appreciating the traditions and values of the game, will give more than a good account of themselves,” said Johnson.

Night Series Final

Hilton 222-6 (Hirschowitz 78, Bosch 47, Curtis 23; De Wet 3-49)

College 113 (Steenkamp 42; Hirschowitz 2-14, Bosch 2-20)

Hilton won by 109 runs and retain the Night Series trophy.

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