The Joburg schools cricket season is a month away, and it kicks off with the traditional opener: the St David’s Festival, writes THEO GARRUN.
Last year, the festival was changed from a T20 event to a two-day event played in the classic declaration cricket format, and this year will once again see captains choosing when to call time on their innings. Owing to the change in format, the 16 schools that attended the T20 festival in the past were reduced to six last year. However, the number has increased to eight this year, and Dave Nosworthy (St David’s director of cricket), believes the change was a necessary one.
‘Of course, we regretted not being able to accommodate all our friends anymore, and we intend rotating the schools invited from next year to give more the opportunity, but we believe it’s vital to expose schoolboy cricketers to a longer form of the game,’ said Nosworthy.
The batsmen, he says, need to learn to spend more time at the crease, without the limited-overs restraints, while bowlers need to be able to bowl longer spells and be accustomed to being brought back into the attack later during the innings. He added that the players also need to get a feel for proper cricket, and this requires that you get up each morning and perform over an extended period of play. This change in format also forces the captains to learn to think strategically about field placings, bowling changes and declarations.
‘Last year we found that most teams played positively and we were pleasantly surprised at the number of results that the games produced,’ Nosworthy said. ‘The aim of the game is to win and captains must learn that sometimes you have to be prepared to lose in order to win. That’s a lesson that can’t be taught in limited-overs cricket.’
It’s very much a pre-season tournament, Nosworthy stresses, and coaches are encouraged to see it as an opportunity to work with their teams in a context where competitive time in the middle forms part of the programme.
‘Our nets, gym, bowling machines and so on are all available to the teams and coaches throughout the weekend,’ he said.
Most of the schools will be bringing full-strength teams to the festival, although last year some teams used the occasion to blood young players.
Match 1 (30-31 August)
- St Albans vs CSA XI (Gier Oval)
St David’s vs St Andrews (La Rosey Oval)
KES vs Maritzburg College (Mc Gregor Oval)
St Stithians vs Clifton (La Valle Oval)
Match 2 (1-2 September)
- St Albans vs Maritzburg College (Gier Oval)
St David’s vs CSA XI (La Valle Oval)
KES vs Clifton (La Rosey Oval)
St Stithians vs St Andrew’s (Mc Gregor Oval).
Photo: Theo Garrun