The first day of the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week delivered on its promise of excellent competition, with the Pietermaritzburg pitches offering some assistance for both the bat and the ball.
The hosts, Maritzburg College, kicked off their campaign against a strong Affies side. Playing on Goldstone’s, College’s revered ground, the Pretoria school won the toss and, as expected, decided to bowl first. They were rewarded early on when Xavier de Wet struck with the total on 21.
Liam Armstrong, though, knuckled down and grafted hard for 28 from 66 deliveries. But it was captain Bryn Brokensha and his fellow all-rounder Chad Mason (64 from 108 deliveries) who were the cornerstones of the College innings.
Brokensha began slowly but hit the accelerator towards the end of the College innings, striking some lusty blows in his unbeaten 82 from 91 balls, to guide his side to 228 for 5 from their 50 overs.
Affies made a dream start to their run chase, with the opening pair of Jorich van Schalkwyk (50) and Lukas Janse van Rensburg (47) combining in a wonderful stand of 107 for the first wicket to lay a solid foundation for their side to chase the 229 runs they required for victory.
After the pair’s departure, Ruben Groenewald, with a quickfire 38 from 21 balls, and Janco Purchase, piled on the runs. Purchase reached the crease at an interesting juncture, with the contest evenly poised. But he kept his composure and weighed in with an invaluable and unbeaten 40 from 42 deliveries to see Affies to a three-wicket win in their Michaelmas Week opener.
At Richmond, Clifton College delivered an emphatic statement, comprehensively defeating Saint David’s Marist Inanda by 8 wickets.
After the Durban school won the toss, like Affies, they opted to bowl first. That proved to be a good call as Huzaifah Badat (3/31) and Mitchell Tillard (2/29) struck and quickly had the visitors from the north on the back foot.
Gomolemo Phiri offered stern resistance, falling just three runs shy of what would have been a well-deserved half-century, as he top-scored for Saint David’s in a 73-ball stay out in the middle. He was well supported by Morteza Manack, who contributed 36 from 53 balls as the Gauteng side mustered 138 all out.
Clifton, though, never looked like losing as they began confidently in pursuit of 139 runs for victory.
Shahzaad Perumal anchored the Clifton innings with a masterclass in stroke-making, weighing in with 69 not out from 83 deliveries. He was well supported by Jayden Roux, who also looked comfortable in his innings of 42 from 71 balls. Together, they saw Clifton to a convincing win.
Waterkloof opened their account with a solid victory over Durban High School.
Playing at Lynwood, Klofies followed the trend of choosing to field first after they had won the toss. It proved to be a fruitful decision. With most of their batsmen back in the hut, DHS found themselves in deep trouble on 87 for 7 as Marcus Bakker spearheaded the Waterkloof attack with a return of 3/38.
The Horseflies, though, managed to stretch their innings, thanks to a much-needed 53 not out from 48 deliveries, scored by Sfundo Mthembu, which helped DHS to a respectable 157 all out.
It wasn’t enough, however, as Marcus Bakker demonstrated his batting prowess, giving Waterkloof a fine start to their run chase, with an impressive 59 from 69 balls. Beukes van den Berg also got in on the act, with 39 runs from 42 balls.
Riley Miller then announced his presence with a rapid and unbeaten 34 from 18 balls to see the Klofies over the line with six wickets to spare.
At Eston, Michaelhouse continued their good run of early season form against Jeppe, romping to a 90-run victory.
The Johannesburg school won the toss and put Michaelhouse in to bat. At first, it appeared to be a good decision, but Murray Baker had other ideas. He showed his class, frequently putting the sweep to good use, to put the Gauteng boys under pressure. Together, he and Nathan Hoatson dialled up the pressure with the bat.
Baker eventually fell agonisingly close to a century, bowled for 97 from 107 balls, while Hoatson continued on to contribute 41 as Michaelhouse tallied a convincing 268 for 9.
Jeppe’s reply began fantastically. Openers Kai van Aardt, with 37 from 43 balls, and Kyle Jackson, with 29 from 34 deliveries, provided their side with a strong 72-run partnership for the first wicket.
It was a solid platform and captain Jaydon Brooker looked to build upon it. He got himself in, but was dismissed for 28 from 42 deliveries. After his departure, matters went pear-shaped for Jeppe, who lost wickets at regular intervals.
Nathan Hoatson, after his batting heroics, delivered with the ball, too. He picked up 4 for 37 as his side captured a comfortable victory.
Hilton College, playing on their Hart-Davis Oval, won handsomely against Pretoria Boys High (PBHS) after posting a mammoth 315/9 in their 50 overs. Captain Ross Boast led from the front, with a wonderful display of power hitting towards the end of the Hilton innings. He finished just two runs shy of triple figures after being caught off of the last ball of the innings.
Callum Croome did the damage with the ball for PBHS, claiming the first five-for of the week as he walked away with a return of 5/50.
Pretoria Boys fought valiantly in their reply, but they came up well short, bowled out for 244. Marc van der Merwe led their response with a well-played 48, while Croome shone again, contributing 38 with the bat.
Brett Cutting’s spin undermined the PBHS response, however, as he bagged a superb 4/27 in his 10 overs. He was well supported by Matthew Stewart, who claimed three scalps for 28 runs to help Hilton to a convincing victory in their first of four outings.
Maritzburg College 228/5 (Bryn Brokensha 82*, Chad Mason 64, Liam Amstrong 28; Petrus Rautenbach 1/35); Affies 232/7 (Jorich van Schalkwyk 50, Lukas Janse van Rensburg 47, Janco Purchase 40*, Ruben Groenewald 38; Michael Gibson 2/16, James Wiggil 2/35). Affies won by three wickets.
St. David’s Marist 138/10 (Gomolemo Phiri 47, Morteza Manack 36, Armaan Manack 23; Huzaifah Badat 3/31, Shiraz Perumal 3/26, Mitchell Tillard 2/29); Clifton 141/2 (Shazaad Perumal 69*, Jayden Roux 42*; Boago Gaoraelwe 1/34). Clifton won by eight wickets.
Durban High School 157/10 (Sfundo Mtembu 53*, Semal Pillay 29, Ethan Cooper 24; Marcus Bakker 3/38, Khumo Thloaela 2/8, Jaydon Blom 2/12); Waterkloof 163/4 (Marcus Bakker 59, Beukes van den Berg 39, Riley Miller 34*; Sfundo Mtembu 1/4). Waterkloof won by six wickets.
Michaelhouse 268/9 (Murray Baker 97, Nathan Hoatson 41, Hayden Hewlett 29; Tinotenda Mutekwa 4/38, Jayden Brooker 2/50); Jeppe 178/10 (Kai van Aardt 37, Kyle Jackson 29, Jaydon Brooker 28, Ryan Harcourt-Baldwin 23; Nathan Hoatson 4/37, Thomas Mitchell 2/17). Michaelhouse won by 90 runs.
Hilton College 315/9 (Ross Boast 99, Ben Hockly 43, Charl Swart 42, Ivan Lockem 35; Callum Croome 5/50); Pretoria Boys High 244/10 (Marc van der Merwe 48, Callum Croome 38; Brett Cuttin 4/27, Matthew Stewart 3/28). Hilton College won by 72 runs.