The only certainty about the Coca-Cola Schools T20 Challenge national finals this weekend is that there will be a new name on the trophy.
The 2016 and 2017 winners, St Stithian’s College, who represented the Highveld Lions, were knocked out during the provincial phase of the tournament this year. This opens the way for more of the ‘usual suspects’, such as Rondebosch, St Andrew’s, Hilton, Grey High and KES to fend off the challenge from the aspiring Prestige College and Graeme College. St Alban’s College, representing the Titans, at least have home advantage.
The finals of the challenge will return to the University of Pretoria – where it was last held in 2014 – from 16-18 March 2018.
Coca-Cola have this season added a new element to the tournament that is aimed at spreading the talent search wider, by bringing on board Proteas batsman Temba Bavuma and other cricket experts, to identify and reward players at each of the six franchise finals. These players represent the Coca-Cola T20 All-Star team and have been given the opportunity to be part of the national finals.
The Coca-Cola T20 All-Star team members will take on a CSA Development Hub team as a curtain-raiser to the final match of the tournament.
The team consists of: Matthew Montgomery (Clifton College), Simon Holmes (Clifton College), Matthew Thorn (Outeniqua), Rudi Klaasen (Paul Roos Gymnasium), Neil Bothma (HTS Marais Viljoen), Khaya Nyamathe (HTS Marais Viljoen), Mason Zacharea (Northern Cape HS), Reeza Alexander (Northern Cape HS), Odilile Modimokoane (Rustenburg HS), Stiaan Swanepoel (Rustenburg HS), Matthew Dewar (Selborne) and Matthew Fourie (Selborne).
Schools that will represent the six CSA franchise teams, as well as two focus school teams, are: Rondebosch Boys (Cape Cobras), Hilton College (Dolphins), St Andrew’s (Knights), King Edward VII (Highveld Lions), St Alban’s (Titans), Grey High (Warriors), Prestige College (Inland Focus) and Graeme College (Coastal Focus).
Photo: Supplied by Cricket South Africa