Thursday, March 6, 2014

Grey College Represent Knights In Coca-Cola® T20 Schools Challenge National Finals

The first school to qualify for the 2014 Coca-Cola® Schools T20 Challenge national finals is Bloemfontein’s Grey College, who beat their own 2nd team in the Free State provincial final and then overcame the Griquas provincial champions, Hoërskool Noord-Kaap, in the Knights franchise final.

The Coca-Cola® T20 Schools Challenge is a national T20 knockout competition which began back in October last year, involving 650 schools.  The schools played in provincial competitions initially, with the eventual provincial winners meeting their counterparts in the various franchises – The Cobras, Warriors, Dolphins, Knights, Lions and Titans.

The tournament is fairly new, but it is already playing its part in Cricket South Africa’s talent identification pipeline. Quinton de Kock is the first Protea player to have played in the national finals – for King Edward II School and the Lions in 2010 and 2010 – and a number of players have gone on from here to play for the South African Schools and  Coca-Cola®  under-19 teams. They include the star of the 2014 ICC under-19 World Cup, Kagiso Rabada, who represented St Stithians College and the Lions in 2013.

The Free State final was an unusual affair – the first time that two teams from the same school have met in a final in this competition, which is testament to the depth of cricketing talent at the Bloemfontein school.

According to Andre Bester, master in charge of cricket at Grey and 1st team coach, the boys thoroughly enjoyed playing against each other. “In fact, they were even more competitive knowing that they were playing against their school mates,” he said. “The atmosphere was great for the boys, the school and all those that attended the final.”

“However, for me as the 1st team coach and the master in charge of cricket, it was very difficult because naturally I could not choose sides and wanted both to win. There was a lot of chirping on the field, and a great overall Grey College spirit,” said Bester. “Although it was inevitable that one of the teams had to win, it is still fantastic to know that both our 1st and 2nd teams are the best cricket sides in the Free State “

As Free State champions, Grey then went on to play Noord-Kaap, the winners of the Griquas region, to determine who the representative of the Knights franchise at the national finals would be.

The Bloemfontein side won quite comfortably (by 9 wickets) and is set to challenge their counterparts from around the country at the Coca-Cola® T20 Schools Challenge national finals in Pretoria next month.

As franchise champions, Grey College win R66 000 in prize money and, according to Bester, they are going to use it for cricket maintenance purposes: fixing the cricket nets, and buying some new equipment. This prize money could increase to R110 000 if the school emerges as the ultimate tournament winner.

Provincial final – Grey I 167/2 (Frik de Beer 85 runs off 50 balls). Grey II 129/4. Grey I won by 38 runs.
Franchise final - Noord-Kaap 81 all out. Grey College 82/1. Grey won by 9 wickets.

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