The Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week returns to Pretoria after ten years and as we look back at the previous tournament hosted in the capital it is evident that the tournament is the springboard for cricket players with the aspiration to make a career out of the game.
Five future Proteas and one future Black Cap made their mark at the 2004 edition of the tournament. Dean Elgar (Free State), Rusty Theron (Border), Richard Levi (Western Province), Kyle Abbott (KwaZulu-Natal) and Mthokozisi Shezi (KwaZulu-Natal Inland) were all stars for their respective province. The hosts’ fast bowler, Neil Wagner, also played for New Zealand to make the total international graduates from the 2004 tournament a dozen.
Levi was the top batsman at the tournament in 2004. He scored 286 runs at an average of 71.5 runs per innings which included a century (122*) against Mpumalanga. Three other players, the SA Schools captain Francois le Clus (140 –Northerns vs. Kei), Neil de Bruin (103 – Griquas vs. Kei) and Gladwin Ponela (101 – Northerns vs. Kei) managed to record centuries.
The tournament however belonged to the bowlers in 2004 with no less than seven players managing to record five-wicket hauls. The record for the best bowling figures at the Coca-Cola Khaya Majola Week also belonged to Simon Minnaar of Western Province after this tournament. His bowling figures of 7/26 against Mpumalanga was the record until 2012 in Potchefstroom when Daryn Dupavillon (KwaZulu-Natal Inland) removed seven of North West’s batsman for a mere 18 runs to make the record his.
One of the top bowlers at the 2004 edition was Scott Spedding who made his international rugby debut for France against Fiji earlier this year. Spedding grabbed 13 wickets during the tournament for Gauteng. Henk Holtzhausen of Limpopo was the leading wicket-taker with 14 wickets. Both of them didn’t manage to make the national representative sides that year.
2004 was also the last time that Free State managed to be the “unofficial champions” of the tournament by winning the main match of the final day against Eastern Province by two wickets. The Free State side which was captained by Pite van Biljon included players like Elgar, Griffon Nieuwoudt, Lefa Mosena and CJ de Villiers who all have successful first class careers. The team was coached by former Free State player, Phillip Radley, and current SA Schools selector, Rafeek Ismail.
Other first class players who made their mark in 2004 was Craig Alexander (Western Province), Christiaan Jonker (North West), Ethan O’Reilly, Jon-Jon Smuts (both Eastern Province), Jean Symes, Richard das Neves (both Gauteng) and Shaun von Berg (Northerns).
No less than nine players Marques Ackerman, Ryan Rickelton, Grant Roelofsen, Brandon Glover (all Gauteng), Matthew Christensen (Western Province), Stefan Klopper, Janneman Malan (both Northerns), Lwandisa Zuma (KwaZulu-Natal Inland) and Kabelo Sekhukhune (Easterns) will attend this year’s tournament whom also toured England earlier this year with the national u19-side. A further two players, Lungisani Ngidi (KwaZulu-Natal Inland) and Dayyaan Galiem (Western Province) also have experience at international u19-level for South Africa.
Christensen and Galiem are the only two players who made last year South African Schools’ team who will make the trip to Pretoria. Five players who made the SA Colts side at the conclusion of last year’s tournament – Daniël Griessel (Mpumalanga), Sohail Mahmood (Kwazulu-Natal Inland), Rivaldo Moonsamy (Northerns), Jay Stevens (Western Province) and Sithembele Langa (Border) will attempt to go one better this year.
Northerns’ Dean Foxcroft was named Cricket South Africa’s u15 Player of the Year for his performances during last year’s national u15-week. Western Province’s Murray Commins is the son of former Protea-player, John Commins.