Monday, January 13, 2020

Western Province star goes from SAU19 disappointment to Khaya Majola Hero

Western Province bowler Siyabulela Plaaitjie set aside his disappointment at not making the SA 19 team for the ICC U19 World Cup by playing a match-winning role in Western Province's first win against Gauteng since Potchefstroom in 2012.

When he wasn’t picked he was disappointed and looked for guidance from his mentor at Western Province Cricket, Graham October.

Graham told him that he had two options, the first was to feel sorry for himself and to curl up in bed and cry and the second was to go to the Khaya Majola Week and play the best cricket he can play.

Graham left the decision to Siya because it’s one of his policies is to let the boys in his care make their own decisions.

“Graham is like a father figure to me and he always directs me in the right direction, being left out of the world cup side is a real disappointment. He explained my options and I chose to focus on my game and to make sure that I do well and, hopefully,  make the SA Schools team,’ said Siya.

His earlier performances at the Khaya Majola Week had not been up to his high standards until he faced Gauteng in the traditional clash of the titans at the tournament.

Western Province had not beaten Gauteng at the Khaya Majola Week since the ‘main game’ of 2012. Since then they have lost five finals against Gauteng and it was looking as if they were going to lose again at Michaelhouse on Thursday, until Siya bowled an inspired spell that broke the back of the Gauteng run chase.

Siya has always been a fighter, he comes from a very poor single-parent family in Langa, Cape Town, where his mother tries her very best to give him the opportunities that most boys in that area are not able to get.

Through his cricketing ability, Siya created his own opportunities and was spotted at an early age by Western Province Cricket. He has had many mentors at the union including the current Gauteng coach Siyabonga Sibiya who, even though his team lost to Western Province, was one of the first people to congratulate him for his brilliant effort. He was clearly emotional because he knew what Siya had been through to get this far in life.

Graham October was the most emotional. He ran up to embrace the boy that he knows so well and brought tears to the eyes of many of the spectators on the field.

‘Coach Graham helps me out emotionally, financially and with my cricket. It is awesome to have someone like him in my life, along with the other mentors at Western Province cricket who help me,’ said Siya.

Siya is at Wynberg Boys’ High on a bursary, supported by the Western Province Cricket Union and he is part of a truly South African Western Province team in which privileged kids from schools like Bishops can play as equals with a boy like himself, from Langa and they can be friends.

it’s a story is that Khaya Majola would have loved playing. A testament to his vision for the tournament has been named after him.

Siya and Graeme

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Oberholzer's Hat-trick Highlight of Day 3 of the Khaya Majola Week

There have been a number of good performances over the first three days of the 2019/20 Khaya Majola Week and day three’s T20 double-headers served up quite a few of them.

There were 11 50s and 4 four-wicket hauls on the day, but the performance that really stood out was Christiaan Oberholzer’s 5/22 against Limpopo. Not only did he take more wickets than anyone else in one innings during the day but he also took the first hat-trick of the tournament in the process of achieving that feat.

Christian was delighted with his bowling performance. ‘The hat-trick came in the 8th over. We had a decent total and I decided that I wanted to attack so I asked my captain to bring the field in and let me see if I can get a wicket or two.’

‘My captain backed me and allowed me to place my own field. It took me two balls to take the first wicket, the two batsmen had crossed and with the next ball I took the other set batsman, which applied pressure on the new batsman coming in. The next ball snuck under the bat and hit the batsman’s pad and he was given out LBW.’

Christian is only 17 and this is his first Khaya Majola Week so he did not come with too many personal expectations. His main objective was to enjoy the week and to learn as much as possible from the other players in his team and from his coach. He hopes that he will play again in the week next year.

He struggled a little in the first two games that he played but he thinks that his performance with bat and ball on the third day might be the turning point in his week and he will be able to do far better in the rest of the week.

‘Being an all-rounder gives me an opportunity to do well with both bat and ball. After I took 5 wickets and the hat-trick my confidence was up and I managed make a good score to help my team beat Limpopo by 9 wickets,’ said Christian.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Khaya Majola Cricket Week adds new awards to make the tournament more memorable for the boys

Cricket South Africa and their provincial unions continues to look for new ways that they can improve on the experience at the week for the boys. This year is no exception as the KwaZulu-Natal Inland region adds new awards to the week to make it more memorable for the boys.

Morgan Pillay has been the Tournament Director of the Khaya Majola Cricket Week for the last 23 years in a row and, because the week is always scheduled to incorporate the 16th December holiday, and Morgan’s birthday is on 18TH December, that means he has not been at home his birthday for almost a quarter of a century.

He’s there again this year as the 2019 week takes place in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal Inland, centred at Michaelhouse, with matches also being played at Hilton College, St Charles, Weston Agricultural school and the Pietermaritzburg Oval 

“The week has always featured the most talented cricketers in the under-19 age group, but many other things have changed since my one as tournament director, in Boksburg in 1996,” he said. “In the process we have created a world class stage that allows all cricketers to showcase their talent. There’s no question that this is the finest high school cricket tournament in the world.”

The boys are being housed at the schools, in luxurious accommodation, with good healthy food and first class facilities. Everything has been sorted so all that the players have to do it play their best cricket, make friends and have a wonderful experience, Pillay said. “All of the schools have gone out of their way to prepare their schools to the best of their abilities to make sure that the tournament runs smoothly.”

There have been a lot of changes to the tournament during Pillay’s time. “For example, when I took over the tournament the umpires and scorers were school children, Now we have qualified umpires and scorers and Cricket South Africa supply a manager to look after the umpires and assessors to make sure that the scorers and umpires do their jobs correctly.”

CSA use the week as training for their scorers and umpires, while providing the players with a top class service. This also creates an incentive for the scorers and the umpires to be at the week.

“The top players from each cricketing region come to the tournament and this allows the boys to measure themselves against their peers from across the country  top boys in other regions,” Pillay said. “This allows the players to meet others who they would not usually get to mix with. They can make friendships that can last for life.”

This year the LOC from KwaZulu-Natal decided that they needed to add something to the tournament that will make the tournament different from the others in the past.

They added the awards for the best bowling and batting performance for each day, they would recognize batsmen with awards for all of the centuries scored and the fastest century of the tournament.
To recognize the bowlers they added awards for all of the 5 wicket hauls and hat-tricks during the week.

Finally they looked at what the tournament means for a lot of the kids and that is making lifelong friendships and enjoying a memorable week so they added a fair play award for the player that was best in playing the game in the spirit of the game.

These awards will be given out at the awards ceremony on Friday evening together with the player of the tournament, the leading wicket taker, the leading run scorer and the best all-rounder awards.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Former Titans and Warriors bowler Rowan Richards adds his experience to the Border Cricket Team at the Khaya Majola Cricket Week.

Singatha Gcilitshana, Shannon Musto and Rowan Richards

Rowan Richards retired from professional cricket in March this year. He was with Easterns at the end, but has played for Border, Northerns, the Titans and the Warriors in his long an illustrious career.

Rowan loves the game of cricket and wants to give back so he is now coaching at Queens High School in Queenstown and even though he is new to the role, he has been called up by the Border Cricket Union to serve as team manager and assistant coach to Shannon Musto and Singatha Gcilitshana at this year’s Khaya Majola Week.

“When Border asked me to assist I jumped at the opportunity,” he said. “I never played in this week as a youngster so I’m very excited to take part this year.”

He feels that he has a lot to give to the boys and he serves as an example of someone who missed out on selection, but still ent on to play professional cricket. “I think I am an example of someone that didn't have it all his way,” he said. “I tell the boys to carry on working hard and to know that if they don’t perform well in a game during the week they can bounce back and play well in the next game.”

It’s been a good week so far and he has already seen some outstanding talent. He is looking forward to seeing all the teams in action.

Border did not have it all their own way on day one. They bowled well and had Limpopo all out for 77 runs, but the boys thought that they had already won the match and didn't focus on their batting and were bowled out for 103. Luckily the concentrated a little harder in their second innings and won the match by two wickets.

"The lesson learnt was that there are no easy games at this week, so you have to concentrate in every game. This is a good bunch of players. Today we were complacent, so now we will speak to the boys and make sure that they understand the importance of respecting your opposition and giving everything until the match is over,” he said.

“I was blessed to be in the changerooms of coaches like Vince Barnes, Shukri Conrad, Rob Walter, Mark Boucher just to name a few and I have played with players like AB de Villiers and Faf dui Plessis so I know what goes on in the changeroom with some of the best coaches and players in the country. I know how they deal with certain situations and it’s my job to pass on what I have learned to the boys and to assist Shannon by passing on this information. I am still new in coaching so I have to learn from the other coaches and the boys and improve my own coaching abilities.
Rowan is involved in cricket at all the levels, from KFC Mini-Cricket all the way to the Khaya Majola week and he says that cricket is in a better place that what it was when he was young. “CSA has gone into areas that they have not been into in the past and have exposed a lot of players who would not have had an opportunity in their previous structures. This has enriched the game and they have found a lot of fantastic players that they would have missed. It has also give kids a lot of opportunities to play professional cricket that I didn't have as a kid. Cricket is in a better place now,” he said.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The SA U19 duo leading by example at the Khaya Majola Week

Those running the youth structures at Cricket South Africa’s are understandably focussing on the upcoming ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and the Khaya Majola Week on the go in the KZN Midlands at the moment is being used strategically as part of their preparations for that tournament.

There have been one or two players who are in the SA under-19 team who are carrying minor injuries and have been withdrawn as a precaution, but for the others, this is an opportunity to spend time at the crease and to get some overs under their belts in a competitive situation.

Ten members of the SA U-19 squad are here. We spoke to two of them who have, on the first two days of the week, shown that they are a cut above their peers and that the hard work they have been doing at the national training camp has paid off.

Odirile Modimokoane, a spin bowler from Northwest, is one of those. This is his 3rd Khaya Majola Week and he has taken 9 wickets in the two games so far. “The week has gone well and I have learned a lot of things with my bowling,” he said. “This year is different from the rest because I have learned a lot especially from the SA U-19 camp that we had in December. After I was chosen for the SA U-19 team I decided to play one tournament at a time so I want to focus just on my bowing at this tournament and make sure that I get a lot of overs in to keep fit.”

Lawrence Mahatlane, the SA U-19 coach told him to keep working on his bowling, but to make sure that he also has fun. “Enjoyment plays a huge part in my cricket, so that suits me,” he said. “I have learned from the SA U-19 coaches how to play with my speed and the lines that I bowl. This has helped me a lot because when I bowled slightly slower the ball stayed low but when I speeded up my bowling I got some bounce. I need to mix it up so that I can surprise the batsmen and take wickets.”

The Northwest coaches at the Khaya Majola week have also been a great help. “They helped me with setting up different fields to suit my bowling,” he said. “This week changed my life, It’s my 3rd time and it was here that I was first recognised, and now I have a possible future in cricket. Cricket has given me opportunities to have a career in the sport and that all started at the week.

Levert Manje is a batsman in the Central Gauteng Lions team. He said it is a privilege to make the team and represent his province, and it’s even more of an honour to play for his country at the World Cup.

“I need to make the most of the week,” he said. “It means a lot to me to see our senior provincial coach at the Lions, Sandile Masengemi, take time out of his schedule to come to the week and watch us play. It shows you how important this tournament is.

“My focus is to stay in the moment and not let my position in the under-19 team go to my head, there is a lot of work that I need to do, so I cannot get over confident. “I was disappointed not to play in the Khaya Majola Cricket Week last year, but that taught me not to take anything for granted. I am going to play hard in the week and do as well as I can because it means so much to me. The Khaya Majola Cricket Week is great preparation for the World Cup. I am playing at a high level and I need to work hard to get my confidence up.”

Under-19 coach Lawrence Mahatlane speaks to him often and helps him a lot, Levert said. “He told me to bat for long periods of time and to stay in the now. What I took from that is that I need to be more mature as a batsman and I need to read the various situations that I face and bat accordingly.”

Central Gauteng Lions under-19 coach Siyabonga Sibiya, who is also an assistant coach with the SA U-19 team, is a hard task master but there is a method to what he is trying to do. Levert said. “I understand it I am really appreciative of what he is trying to do.”

Levert has already hit over 130 runs in his two matches so far, with four more to go and is clearly one player to watch at this Khaya Majola Week.