Oppenheimer Michaelmas Week: A rich history of excellence
By Brad Morgan, in cricket Cricket | News News , at 28 September 2023
AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla, Kepler Wessels, Hansie Cronje, Ali Bacher, Graeme Smith, Shaun Pollock, David Miller, Kevin Pietersen, Tony Grieg, and Ross Taylor. They’ve all captained international cricket teams. What else do they have in common? They all played in the Michaelmas Cricket Week.
The Michaelmas Cricket Week was first held in 1959, and since then this year’s line-up of 20 schools has produced 98 internationals, so the potential for two players who are part of the 2023 week to take that number into triple figures exists. One thinks, for example, of Lhuan-dre Pretorius of St Stithians, who on Wednesday was bought by the Paarl Royals at the SA20 Auction, as a possibility.
Interestingly, the Royals’ first pick was Hilton College’s 2019 Head Boy, John Turner, who was recently selected for England’s four-match T20 series against New Zealand at the end of August. Unfortunately, he was forced to miss it with injury, but he is likely to add his name to the list of internationals who played in the week in the near future.
Former Michaelmas Cricket Week participants have also achieved in other aspects of the game. College’s Graham Ford has coached Sri Lanka and Ireland, while Old Collegian, Dave Orchard, umpired at international level. Corrie van Zyl (Grey College), Ray Jennings (KES) and Mickey Arthur (Westville) all coached the Proteas, with Arthur also coaching Australia and Pakistan.
Lance Klusener (DHS) has coached Afghanistan, as well as the Dolphins, and Riaan Minnie (Northwood) is the current analyst and fielding coach for Namibia.
GREATS OF THE GAME
And Barry Richards (DHS), a man named by the legendary Sir Donald Bradman in his all-time team, was also part of the Michaelmas Week. He was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year in 1969. It should be noted that Wisden never accords the honour to a cricketer more than once, or a player of his talent might have been recognised more times.
Three decades later, Maritzburg College’s Jonty Rhodes received the same honour. He is perhaps the most electric and best fielder of all time, which sometimes detracts from his ability with the bat. Rhodes captained College in 1987.
Those two are far from the only players to participate in the Michaelmas Cricket Week to be recognised by Wisden as Cricketers of the Year. Some more? Tony Greig (Queens College), Clive Rice (Saint John’s College), Kepler Wessels (Grey College), Lance Klusener (DHS), Shaun Pollock (Northwood), Graeme Smith (KES), Kevin Pietersen (Maritzburg College), Dale Benkenstein (Michaelhouse), Neil McKenzie (KES), Hashim Amla (DHS), Simon Harmer (Pretoria Boys High), and Devon Conway (Saint John’s College).
AB de Villiers was never accorded the honour in a specific year, but he was named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Decade in 2019.
Since 2004, the event has been sponsored by Jonathan Oppenheimer and is now known as the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week, and it continues to draw some of the finest talent from throughout South Africa. This year, it runs from 30 September to 3 October.
It is now into its 63rd edition, with Maritzburg College hosting it for the 62nd time. KES was the venue for the 1987 festival.
This year, hosts are joined by Glenwood, Kearsney, DHS, Michaelhouse, Hilton College, Saint Charles College, Northwood, Westville and Clifton College, from KZN.
Nine Gauteng schools – Affies, Cornwall Hill College, KES, Waterkloof, Jeppe, Pretoria Boys’ High, Saint John’s College, St Stithians, and Saint David’s Marist Inanda – will also be in action, as will the Free State’s Grey College.
Historically, as demonstrated above, the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week has consistently featured some of the finest cricket talent in South Africa. Over the years, that talent has, beyond doubt, proved itself to be among the best in the world.
Expect more of the same cracking cricket this year. And get out there and enjoy some fine competition, if you have the time.
Maritzburg College vs Affies, Goldstone’s
Glenwood vs Cornwall Hill, Barns
Kearsney vs KES, Collegians
DHS vs Waterkloof, Lynwood
Michaelhouse vs Jeppe, Eston
Hilton College vs Pretoria Boys, Hilton
Saint Charles vs Grey College, Saint Charles
Northwood vs Saint John’s, Varsity
Westville vs St Stithians, Varsity 2
Clifton vs Saint David’s, Richmond
Maritzburg College vs Grey College, Goldstone’s
Westville vs KES, Barns
Michaelhouse vs Cornwall Hill, Lynwood
Clifton vs Pretoria Boys, Collegians
Kearsney vs Waterkloof, Eston
Hilton College vs St Stithians, Hilton
Saint Charles vs Jeppe, Saint Charles
DHS vs Saint David’s, Varsity 1
Glenwood vs Saint John’s, Varsity 2
Northwood vs Affies, Richmond
Maritzburg College vs Pretoria Boys, Goldstone’s
Kearsney vs Saint John’s Barns
Westville vs Jeppe, Lynwood
Michaelhouse vs Affies, Collegians
Glenwood vs St Stithians, Eston
Hilton vs KES, Hilton
Saint Charles vs Saint David’s, Saint Charles
Clifton vs Grey College, Varsity 1
Northwood vs Waterkloof, Varsity 2
DHS vs Cornwall Hill, Richmond
Maritzburg College vs Cornwall Hill, Goldstone’s
Northwood vs Grey College, Barns
Clifton vs KES, Lynwood
Glenwood vs Jeppe, Collegians
Westville vs Waterkloof, Eston
Hilton vs Saint David’s, Hilton
Saint Charles vs St Stithians, Saint Charles
DHS vs Saint John’s, Varsity 1
Kearsney vs Affies, Varsity 2
Michaelhouse vs Pretoria Boys, Michaelhouse