St Stithians College has emerged as one of the powerhouses of Gauteng schools cricket, and a rich source of future professional players writes THEO GARRUN.
There are currently two South Africa Test players – Kagiso Rabada and Wiaan Mulder – who are St Stithians old boys, while a number of others are playing List A cricket either locally or abroad.
The school’s director of cricket, Wim Jansen, partly puts their success down to their philosophy of exposing the boys to as much match action as possible.
‘I often wonder why you practice if you don’t play,’ he said. ‘So, while we do practice a lot we also play a lot and the idea is that all of our teams should have at least two proper matches against other schools per week.’
As a result, even though the season hasn’t officially started, the first team has already played three matches (against Waterkloof, Garsfontein and Menlo Park) as well as two two-day games at the St David’s Festival.
Their second U17 team played at the Potch Boys’ High Heritage Festival, where they beat Randburg and Potch Boys’ High and lost to Potch Gimnasium.
Their next 1st team assignment is the Michaelmas tournament in Pietermaritzburg in a week’s time.
‘We love going there,’ Jansen said. ‘You get to play teams you don’t normally meet and the conditions are different – not the batsman-friendly strips you get in Joburg at this time of the year.’
The Michaelmas week is traditionally the last time the Saints’ matrics play for the school and, Jansen said, it’s a big occasion for them.
‘We lose five players – Johan Mulder, Cameron Shekleton, Joshua Hoffman and Mudiwa Chanakira, but we are fortunate to have a number of very promising young players coming through the ranks,’ he said.
‘We are very excited about Liam McCarthy in particular – he has never played in a junior provincial team but he makes many runs and takes a lot wickets. Left-arm seamer Nyasha Zvinoera is still under-15 but is in our senior team, while Cameron Rowe has made a couple of centuries in this half of the season already.’
An important part of their cricket programme, Jansen believes, is their overseas exchange programme. They have agreements with schools to send five players overseas for three months and for them to send players to Saints.
‘Wiaan Mulder, for example, went on such an exchange and says he learned a tremendous amount from it.’
Jansen finds it pleasing that prominent old boys are keeping their association with the school.
‘Ryan Rickleton is doing rehab in our HPC Gymn after injuring himself at the Africa T20 tournament, and I saw Wiaan Mulder in the nets this week hitting balls with his old coach Peter Stringer. It’s all part of building the culture of cricket at the school.’
The school has produced the following international players: Dave Rundle, Roy Pienaar, David Tebrugge, Michael Lumb ( England), Grant Elliot ( New Zealand), Kagiso Rabada and Wiaan Mulder. Recent first-class players include Mark Benfield (EP and Transvaal), Liam Graham (Border), Branden Glover (Boland), Ricardo Vasconcelos (Boland/Northamptonshire), Ryan Rickelton (Lions), Marques Ackerman (North West) and Wandile Makwetu (Titans).
September 19, vs St Johns (T20)
September 22, vs KES
September 29, vs Westville (Michaelmas)
September 30, vs Clifton (Michaelmas)
October 1, vs CSA TAP XI (Michaelmas)
October 2, vs St Charles (Michaelmas)
October 6, vs St John’s
October 13, vs Randburg/Trinity
October 27, vs St David’s
November 3, vs Jeppe
January 12, vs St Benedict’s
January 19, vs Grey College
January 26, Affies
February 2, vs KES
February 9, vs St John’s
February 16, vs St Alban’s
February 23, vs Parktown
March 2, vs Pretoria Boys’ High
Photo: Theo Garrun