Tuesday, March 11, 2014
ST STITHIANS TO REPRESENT THE GAUTENG LIONS IN THE COCA-COLA® T20 SCHOOLS CHALLENGE
Johannesburg’s St Stithians College will be making their second consecutive appearance at the Coca-Cola® T20 Schools Challenge National Finals in Pretoria next week after beating Potchefstroom Gimnasium by 44 runs in the Lions franchise final.
St Stithians director of cricket, Wim Jansen, believes the key to success in this competition is playing as many T20 matches as possible. They have focused on this tournament and prepared for it over a period of 3 years. “This year we played 22 T20 matches, including friendlies against Hoërskool Menlopark, Wits University and the University of Johannesburg,” he said.
“We won the Johnny Waite Knockout (the Gauteng final) last year, so the boys felt a lot of pressure to win it again this year. The biggest match for us thus far this year was the final against St John’s. Once the boys had won that they were very positive and ready to take the franchise final again,” said Jansen. “
With the win comes prize money of R66 000, and if the school wins the national finals this increases to R110 000. “Last year we used our winnings to purchase a new bowling machine and to upgrade our nets,” Jansen said, “This year we will have to discuss how to use our winnings, but it will more than likely go toward the building of Astroturf nets and changing the run up mats.”
Jansen believes the Coca-Cola® T20 Schools Challenge is exciting. “It is definitely the highlight of our year and the boys thoroughly enjoy playing in the tournament. The fact that the tournament is a knock-out makes it exciting and competitive,” he said. “The biggest benefit of this tournament is that it allows many schools, and at any level, to participate. It allows for national participation, no matter where the school may be located, which is a fantastic way to promote cricket at a school level.”
Jansen said this year’s team is different to the one that won the Lions Franchise final last year. “Last year we had many power players but this year’s team is different. They are more of a team, which makes for a much better fielding unit.”
There were three St Stithians boys in the Gauteng Coca-Cola® Khaya Majola Week team last year. “The obvious one would be the SA under-19 superstar, Kagiso Rabada,” Jansen said. “We also had Ryan Rickelton the wicket keeper and batsman and then Marques Ackerman. Ryan and Marques are back in the team this year.”
The school has also started a cricket exchange program that will see 3 to 4 boys get selected to go to the United Kingdom during the winter and play both school and club cricket. This way these boys get practice throughout the year.
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.