Michaelmas cricket festival lows and highs

2009-09-29 00:00

THE 50th anniversary of the Michaelmas Cricket Week, hosted by Maritzburg College and sponsored by the Oppenheimer Trust, has come and gone.

It was again a successful week, with 16 sides present for the first time, both from the cricket played and the sense of sportsmanship and camaraderie among all present.

On Saturday evening a gala dinner was held in the Alan Paton Hall to commemorate the 50th anniversary, with 350 players, parents and guests were present. Andy Capostagno of SuperSport was an amusing Master of Ceremonies and past Proteas player Pat Symcox was guest speaker. In addition to anecdotes of his playing days he had some sage advice to give to parents, schoolboy players and schoolboy coaches.

For the first time in a number of years four full days of cricket were possible and in only one game was play stopped due to bad light. There was a gremlin, however, in the form of a bug that spread among some players. So the match between hosts Maritzburg­ College and Grey College used the fit players with a few additional players from other schools that were due to sit out on Saturday, in two combination sides.

On Sunday the match between Michaelhouse and Grey College was played as a Twenty20 so that players were not on the field for too long.

KwaZulu-Natal schools generally improved over the four days, and on Sunday they won six of the eight matches, in comparison with losing the majority on Thursday and Friday.

Hosts College had three wins and one game that was not played as an inter-school match but where Gareth Sharpe scored a ton. Kearsney and St Charles both won two matches with one loss and either a draw (St Charles), or a match that was stopped due to bad light (Kearsney).

Glenwood had two wins and two losses. Both Michaelhouse and Hilton won one match, lost two and had one draw. DHS and Westville had one win and three losses.

Among the visitors from outside the province, KES arguably had the strongest side although Kearsney managed to beat them on the final day. Grey College also had three wins with one match not played.

St Johns, Affies and St Stithians had two wins, a loss and a draw. Pretoria BHS played hot and cold, winning two matches, including a win against Kearsney and losing two games.

Hudson Park lost three games, although they showed improvement over the week losing by just six runs against Kearsney and one game where bad light stopped play. St Davids was the other team that did not have a win, but lost all four matches.

There were some fine individual efforts in batting and bowling, as well as some good all-round performances with bat and ball. Some of these names could well be prominent on South African cricket fields in the future.

In addition to Sharpe from Maritzburg College, other centuries were scored by Devon Conway (St Johns), Bruce Kruger (Westville), Matthew Hulett­ (St Charles), Louis Taylor (Hilton), GC Pretorious (Affies) and Gionne Koopman (Hudson Park). In addition 46 half centuries were also scored with Malcolm Nofal of KES, who was unlucky to go out on 98.

The top bowling performances where six wickets were captured in an innings were by Nathan Roberts (Hilton) and Grant Stone (St Charles), which included a hat trick. Five wickets were captured by Shaun Piveteau (KES), Jean Hutchinson (Grey College), and Conway (St Johns). A further 12 bowlers captured four wickets in an innings­.

The top all-round performances were Conway (St Johns), Pretorious (Affies), Nofal (KES), Matthew Pillans (Pretoria BHS), Roberts (Hilton), Keegan Pearce (Glenwood), Nathan Poole (DHS) and Stone (St Charles).

While rivalry on the field was intense, the matches were played in a good spirit. One of the best features of the four days was the number of close matches.

There were seven games where the final result could have gone either way and where the game of cricket was the winner and that is what a festival is all about.

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