It couldn’t have been much fun for teams facing any KES cricket B team that included David Teeger.
As an orthodox Jew, Teeger’s beliefs prevented him from travelling by anything but foot on Saturdays to matches. That meant, in his younger days, that he would often turn out for B teams at home while the KES A side played away.
The thing is Teeger wasn’t simply an A team player at one of South Africa’s leading cricket factories, he was one of the best players of his age in South Africa.
Earlier this year, in fact, he captained the South Africa under-19 team in Bangladesh.
Throughout his playing days at KES, which ended this year – he’s currently busy with his matric final exams – the school did its best to accommodate him, Teeger said, with appreciation: “Our Head of Sports (Eugene Marx] put in a good word, so we didn’t end up playing too many away games for the A team. Then, when we were away, I played for the B team.
“The opposition were not too pleased to be on the receiving end. Luckily, in those weeks when I did play B team cricket, we often played an A team of another school. I don’t think it was fully fair, but…”
A huge honour
Teeger said representing a cricketing institution like KES is a huge honour: “The names of the players that have come out of the school go on and on and on. With that, people can say that there is pressure to perform at King Edward. But I think it’s more of an expectation.
“When you’re a King Edward cricketer, there’s a certain level of expectation, especially when you’re playing for the 1st team, and it’s not arrogance, but you play and own that you are playing in the 1st side of one of the best cricketing schools in the country.
“I always viewed that as a privilege to occupy one of the 11 spots in the school with one of the greatest cricketing heritages in the country. Embrace that and enjoy it and live through that heritage.”
Even before Teeger attended King Edward VII, the home of the Jimmy Cook Cricket Academy, the former Protea opener made his mark on the young prodigy, and he continues to do so today, at the age of 70.
“He’s meant probably the most out of anyone to my cricket career,” Teeger said, the enthusiasm in his voice spiking as he discussed someone who clearly means a lot to him.
“I’ve been with Mr Cook since I was seven, and he is probably the reason I went to King Edward VII. I went to a religious Jewish day school in primary school, and I didn’t think it was a reality [that I might attend King Edward VII], or at least I didn’t think it was, and it was only because of Mr Cook… I went to his clinics every Sunday.
“I still go to him for private lessons. He moved down to Cape Town at the end of last year, but we still find time to have sessions together. It’s not just his coaching expertise, his interpersonal skills are also a huge asset, and I think that’s often under-rated in coaching.
Describing what Cook has brought and continues to bring to his game, Teeger elaborated: “He instils this confidence in you, in almost any cricketer, that I have never seen. You get guys who are not that naturally gifted playing ridiculously well because they go to Mr Cook. I think he is an incredible man. He’s been instrumental in my cricketing career, but also in shaping me as a person.”
Listening to the stories of a man who was a key part of the all-conquering “Transvaal Mean Machine”, who in a three-year spell with Somerset dominated county cricket, scoring over 7 500 runs, is hugely inspiring, Teeger added: “I think Mr Cook’s story-telling ability is probably among the best I have ever heard. The way he tells the story, and then you reflect on those stories and realise he’s talking about Sachin Tendulkar, or he’s talking about when he was coaching AB de Villiers.
“You look at these players and you idolise them. They’re like Gods in other countries, and Mr Cook is chatting to you about them like he’s their coach, and you know he’s their mate.”
The lessons he has learned from Cook go way beyond cricket, Teeger explained: “It’s also the person he is, not just the cricketer and the cricket coach. Mr Cook, in every facet of his life, is a wonderful role model, and he is probably the biggest role model in my life.”
There are others who have served as role models for David Teeger. His father, James, for example, was a fine cricketer himself, who played for Transvaal between 1991 and 1993. And, one year ahead of him at KES, Dean Bacher, who was captain of the 1st XI in 2022. Bacher meant more to Teeger than simply being a cricket captain. The similarities the two shared, including their religion, helped Teeger to plot his path to success.
“Especially when you’re going through those tough times, he’s a guy I lean on, and I ask him for advice. What would he do in a situation? Because we have lived similar experiences.
“Our home life, our background, our religious upbringing, all of that is similar, and we were probably the two most similar people at the school, maybe even in the country. I don’t think you get two 1st team cricketers, both captains, and both come from a religious upbringing. Our friendship really did grow from that.
“It definitely helped,” he added. “For example, when you’re unsure how to deal with a player/coach matter, or strategy on the field, all the small things, that helps. On the field, the friendship that you form over the years helps in trusting a guy’s decision-making. When I don’t fully know what to do and Dean tells me, I am going to trust him because of the friendship we formed over the years.”
“The most special moment”
Teeger’s last match for KES was rained out, but that didn’t prevent it from being memorable, he said, calling it “probably the most special moment of my life.”
Observing his faith, he would walk to his team’s matches on a Saturday, but when that last game arrived, his team was waiting for him, joining him for one last walk to a match.
He said: ” When the guys showed up, it was a total surprise. I remember my dad rushing me to get going at 06:30. I said we always leave at 06:45. He was rushing me to get down the driveway, and then at the bottom of the driveway the team was waiting there. That was a really special moment.
“It shows that I served the school. But I think it is testament to the team culture that we built and the ethos of KES. You know that they are willing to walk 45 minutes on a Saturday morning, wake up an hour-and-a-half earlier as a team, and do that special thing.
“It’s not a once-off occurrence. We do that special stuff like that all the time. That was one of the special things that went into the public eye, but I think that is really testament to the team culture of the King Edward 1st team, which was definitely built by Dean, and hopefully I followed on in those footsteps. Lastly, it’s about the ethos of the school.”
Finding words for what he felt at that time is tough, Teeger said. It left him desperate to score a century to thank his teammates, but some dreams are simply never meant to be. The memory, though, will remain with him always.
“It’s testament to what the team built,” he said. “Especially with juniors coming in, we struggled initially when Dean’s year left, and just to see them grow into the position of being a King Edward first team cricketer, buy into the team’s culture and serve the whole team was very rewarding.”
Apart from leading the SA under-19 team in Bangladesh, Teeger has also been in action for the SA Emerging Team in Division Two of the CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge. It has been a fantastic experience, he enthused.
“It’s a huge honour and privilege to represent your country at any level, playing any sport. Within the emerging space, it’s massive, because you are playing with guys who have played professional cricket for a number of years, guys who played in the SA20, so you feed off of that experience and that knowledge, and I really did try to tap into that.
A student of the game, with a voracious appetite for knowledge, Teeger said he used the experience to learn from others: “I was asking fast bowlers for advice. I am never going to bowl 120 km/h. I bowl off-spin. But it’s about tapping into the knowledge and getting to know the people, as well. That was tremendous. I learned much within that emerging space.”
In the final of the competition, up against the ITEC Knights, who were a perfect seven from seven in their previous matches, Teeger was at his best, leading his team to an eye-opening eight-wicket victory with 105 balls to spare, or in more common terms, 17.3 overs.
“The final was a special effort from the team. The Knights were 220 for 4, they hadn’t lost a game all season, and they were on par for 380. We really pulled it back [restricting them to 276],” Teeger said.
Amidst the run chase and the thrill of the game, he continued to file away knowledge, he explained: “It was about seeing older guys, how they react in certain situations, especially when I was captaining them, because you see how they’re thinking. It develops your cricketing mind and ability.
“Obviously, I played a very good innings, and I am proud of myself for that, but the start we got with the bat was unbelievable, 92 without loss after 10 overs. That set the platform and then I went in and tried to maintain the momentum that we had built.”
That innings he mentioned was an unbeaten 95 from only 70 balls, with 10 fours. Lhuan-dre Pretorius and Richard Seletswane, both of St Stithians, contributed 76 and 35 not out respectively, while Ethan-John Cunningham, formerly the captain of Rondebosch, weighed in with 55 at the top of the order.
Teeger shared his thoughts on playing with the two Saints’ stars, who were also joined by their schoolmate Kwena Mphaka in the side: “It’s fascinating, because at school when we play KES vs Saints, it’s an arch-rivalry. It’s quite funny. You can imagine the tuning in the field and the chirping. I play more with those guys than I probably do with anyone else, especially Lhu-andre, because I play at Old Edwardians with him.
“It’s quite an interesting dynamic when they’re on my team versus when they’re not. The friendships we have formed over the years have been special, and I think it definitely helps when you’re batting together. You understand their game and see what they need to do. You can see them getting agitated and tell them to relax a bit. You know their scoring areas, but I think over the years the more games you play with these guys, the more time you spend with them, it helps on and off the field.”
Looking into the not-to-distant future, Teeger said he wants to take his cricket to a higher level: “My ambition is to try and play professional cricket, and then, one day, hopefully play for the Proteas. That would be the greatest honour.
“I would like to break into a professional team, but I do want to study. Academics are a crucial grounding for anyone. It’s also a back-up. Sport is unpredictable with injuries and all of that sort of stuff. I definitely want to enter the business world as an accountant. I’ll be looking to try and play professional cricket, but I would also like to get an accounting degree.”
One last question was posed: Does he have any role models in the game? His answer, perhaps because it wasn’t a South African, surprised, but it should be clear by now that David Teeger tries to learn as much from the game as possible, and that means not being bound by geographical boundaries. And the aforementioned Richard Seletswane played a role, he said.
“It’s quite funny, because it originally developed from Richard Seletswane, and I have kind of embraced it. He used to call me Sir Kane when I played the KES versus Saints games.
“Over the years, I have developed an admiration for Kane Williamson. People say we are quite similar. I’ll take that. That’s a huge privilege to be compared to a player like him, the way he captains, the way he bats. His temperament stands out for me.
“I try to be myself, but I try to model my game on Kane Williamson.”