THE cooler boxes have already been stocked with ice-cold cans of orange juice, the deckchairs are in the boot as all journeys head to the delightful City Oval in Alexandra Park this Wednesday afternoon. It’s the Coca-Cola National Franchise T20 cricket competition KZN Inland region final between the Maritzburg College first XI and their St Charles College counterparts, and the 2.30pm start is set to launch a humdinger of a contest. “Yes, it’s going to be a thrilling battle between two evenly-matched sides and what makes it extra-special is that not even the most knowledgeable schoolboy cricket fans can come up with an objective assessment of the outcome,” was Maritzburg College first XI coach Dave Pryke’s summing up of this much-anticipated clash. And there’s a massive carrot dangling in the wind for these talented outfits. “The prospect of representing KZN Inland schools at the KZN Dolphins Franchise final against KZN Coastal champions Glenwood at Kingsmead on Friday afternoon will obviously be in the back of the Saints’ boy’s minds but they appreciate only too well that their aspirations will only come true if they manage the Maritzburg College hurdle first,” was the opinion of the St Charles College first XI mentor Murray Cole-Edwardes when contacted by Maritzburg Fever on Tuesday. And the winners get to take on KZN Coastal region winners Glenwood at Kingsmead in Durban on Friday afternoon. The victors there advance to the National Franchise Finals at the University of Stellenbosch next month so there’s plenty to play for. Pryke agreed that the immediate business at hand was about the St Charles College challenge.“Look, Saints have a good side that is well balanced in all departments so the boys know they must bring their A-game to the Oval for the Saints test.”Cole-Edwardes and Pryke have established themselves in a very short time as canny cricket mentors and the battle of tactical wits between the two adds an additional flavour to this mouth-watering showcase of the cream of Pietermaritzburg schoolboy cricket talent. In captains Scott Steenkamp of the Maritzburg College first XI and his opposite number Lawrence Lawlor of St Charles College you have two intelligent skippers and quality cricketers in their own right while each team is also blessed with potential match-winners such as College fast bowler and explosive batsman Brad Sherwood and Saints paceman Brandon van Zyl, so it’s anyone’s game. Whoever turns up with their A-game come the 2.30pm start Wednesday will likely win this one.