WITH weeks' of undiluted Cricket World Cup to come, it's opportune to introduce two fine, new young talents in the UCT first XI. Fresh from Rondebosch Boys' High School (RBHS), first-year students (and friends since grade 8) Andrew CronjÃ© and Dean Cooke are already making their mark.
A fast bowler, Cooke opened for UCT in the first three games this year and though he had a dry run (â€œIt was pretty frustrating because I didn't bowl badly,â€ said the Kopano-based student), in mitigation he took four wickets in the last match (January 31) against Primrose.
It was as a youngster in grade 10 that he played his first game for the RBHS first XI, becoming a regular as an all-rounder in the side from grade 11. But the highlight of his school cricketing career was probably the season he spent on a cricket exchange, playing for Wrekin College in the United Kingdom during his penultimate year at RBHS.
But while cricket, and the occasional game of golf, may be Cooke's passion, he's no slouch in the academic department. He matriculated with a full brace of As and plans to tackle actuarial science. â€œI know it's going to be very difficult but if I do struggle, I'll be able to drop down to business science.â€
CronjÃ© (no relation to the late Hansie) hails from a banana farm in Port Edward but moved to the Mother City in 1996. â€œI liked all sports from a young age,â€ he says, although most of his accolades have been won in the cricketing arena. He captained the RBHS first XI from grade 11 and he is part of the 24-man SA U-19 squad from which a side will be chosen to tour the UK later this year.
But like Jonty Rhodes, CronjÃ© is also an outstanding hockey player. He captained the SA Schools side last year, taking his team to a 21 test series win over Australia (yeah!) in Australia last July. He also has a place in the Senior A hockey side which won all four games in Zimbabwe last year.
Unfortunately, the cricket and hockey seasons are beginning to overlap and although he is loath to choose between the two, the demands of a BCom (charted accountancy) have to be added to the equation. â€œI'll probably be at UCT for 20 years,â€ he quips. â€œBut who knows? If I don't go far in cricket, I'll carry on with hockey.â€
With plenty of byes due to the CWC, there is time to savour the multifarious nuances of student life. However, both Cooke and CronjÃ© featured at the Newlands opening ceremony on February 8. CronjÃ© led the Australian team (â€œWe drew their names from a hat,â€ he says in defence), who were first out on the field, holding the plaque (in the form of a bat) aloft. Cooke was a crowd entertainer during the prelude to the ceremony. â€œWe played a bit of cricket on the field to get the crowd going before the TV cameras rolled.â€