The Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Cricket Week has always depended on passionate school teachers who have been prepared to give up the week before Christmas, year after year, to create the opportunity for the cream of our under-19 cricketing talent to show what they can do.
And you'll have to go a long way to find a cricket man more passionate, or one who has created more of those opportunities, than Dave Alers, deputy principal of East London's Hudson Park High School, and manager of the Border Schools team that is playing at this year's week in Durban.
This is Alers' 11th consecutive week as a team official, and his 20th in total. His first was in Johannesburg in 1989, when he was the assistant manager of the Border team and he has missed out on the odd occasion, but otherwise he has been pretty much a permanent fixture at the elite schools cricket festival ever since.
Alers was no mean cricketer himself. He played in four of these weeks - from 1972 to 1975, representing the then Rhodesia, making the SA Schools team in his final year. He then went on to play 1st class cricket for Rhodesia, Eastern Province and Border, as an opening bowler. He also played for the SA Universities team in 1977 and 1978.
After qualifying as a teacher at Rhodes University he was appointed as a teacher at East London's Cambridge High School in 1982, and started coaching the first cricket team there in 1985. He then moved to Hudson Park, where he also took the 1st team and, nearly 30 years on, he is still coaching.
He has seen a lot over the years and, for him, the biggest event has been the birth of the new South Africa. "In those early years this was the Nuffield Week - an all-white affair, with all that that implies. The unification of cricket led, in the Border region especially, to exposure for some amazing talents, and coaching them over the years has been a highlight for me," he said
Pressed to single out one special year, Alers said it would have to be 1994 - the last time the week was at Kearsney College. "It was a special year because it was the 1st unified week, and the Border team that year had in its ranks two players who were to become giants of South African cricket - Mark Boucher and Makhaya Ntini.
"I would hesitate to say that standards have dropped these days - they haven't - but we don't see players of their stature very often these days."
As far as changes down the years are concerned, he believes the biggest one has been a greater emphasis on winning these days. "In my early years we only played declaration cricket, with a two-day game day in some of the weeks. Draws were common in those days and it was more about performances than results," he said. "T20 cricket hadn't been invented and limited overs cricket was frowned on."
With the introduction of the new formats, results became possible and this changed the way players approach the game. "It's been a good thing and I think players have benefitted from having to apply different strategies."
Alers is excited by the prospects of SA u-19 bowler Ngazibini Sigwili, who is from his school and in the Border team this year. "He is the second SA Schools player Hudson Park has produced," he said. "In 2007 we had Cebo Tshiki, also fast bowler, in the team."
As for the future, Alers is hesitant to commit himself to another Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week next year. "My wife has been amazingly tolerant of me being away at his time of the year, every year," he said, "but she may run out of patience eventually.
"But she know this is what I really love to do, so who knows, maybe I'll make it 21 weeks next year."