The fifth edition of the Momentum eKasi Challenge will see the hosts, the Titans, take on the Highveld Lions at the Nelson Mandela Sports Complex in Hammanskraal on Wednesday 13 September.
On the previous two occasions, the Titans have hosted the eKasi Challenge, it has been held at the Mamelodi Oval, but this year it shifts to north of Pretoria to the little township town on the border with the North West Province.
With the Titans having lost all four of the previous eKasi Challenge 50-over matches against the Highveld Lions, the hosts are hoping a change of scenery brings a change in result. But there is also a great deal of excitement amongst the Titans players at bringing top-level cricket to the thriving cricket community in Hammanskraal.
None more so than pace bowler Alfred Mothoa, who was born in Hammanskraal on what is now called the Day of Reconciliation, 16 December 1989, and went to school there at Tipfuxeni Secondary and is a development product through and through.
Mothoa enjoyed his breakthrough season in 2016-17 as he took 20 wickets at an average of just 17 to help spearhead Northerns’ charge to the three-day title. He also made his four-day debut for the Titans, producing a highly encouraging performance that saw him claim four wickets in the match against the Warriors and earned him a full franchise contract.
So as delighted as Mothoa is to be returning to his roots, so the residents of Hammanskraal will welcome him back as a son of the soil who has made it in cricket.
‘The eKasi Challenge is a really good initiative and if it can get more township people playing then that will make me very happy. I started playing there when I was 16 years old, just club cricket, and I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t even know what a grass pitch was until I played on one there for the first time!
‘I always want to make the people at home proud, especially my brother Ikgomotseng, whose dream was to play for the Titans but he’s now the administrator of the Hammanskraal Cricket Club. I came under his wing growing up and I fell in love with cricket,’ Mothoa says.
According to Johan Muller, the Operations Manager for Northerns Cricket, taking the eKasi Challenge to Hammanskraal will be a reward for the rapid strides the cricket club there has made in growing the game amongst the local community.
‘Four SA U19 girls and several of our provincial Under 11 and Under 12 boys came from there and when we had a father and child mini-cricket day, there were more than a hundred parents who came out to play.
‘Hammanskraal have more than played their part in cricket development and having the eKasi Challenge there is recognition to say ‘well done’.
‘We have tried to take the event to different communities, to support those communities and we would like to spread it further. Two years ago the City of Tshwane built a very nice clubhouse at Hammanskraal. I think a lot of the players will be surprised by the standard of the facilities there,’ Muller says.
There will be an activation the day before the eKasi Challenge in the nearby area of Temba, where a number of schools in close proximity will have the chance to get involved in a coaching clinic. Muller said Northerns Cricket were also eager to build nets and a cricket facility at the club field.
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images