’Twas a smashing season.
UCT Cricket Club has won the coveted Western Province Cricket Association’s Club of the Year trophy after a brilliant season.
In the words of Joshua Manley, the club’s head of marketing, UCT Cricket Club “pulled finger this season, on and off the pitch”, to claim highest honours at the provincial awards.
The first team finished third in the First Division A League, the second team ended third in Reserve B and the third team won Reserve F.
“The hard yards have definitely paid off,” said Manley. “With batsmen smashing 100s regularly [and] bowlers shattering timber ... it really has been a spectacle to behold.”
Club captain and chairperson “Sir” Donald Paterson was really chuffed with the club’s efforts all round.
“We’ve really been competing in all of our fixtures. The second team was unbeaten in their two-day league. We’ve been serious competition,” he said. “No one’s upset about third place.”
He rued missed games for the second team, which undoubtedly scuppered their chances of promotion. But after narrowly missing relegation last year, the club was back firing on all cylinders in 2016/17.
Next year, the first team will challenge for promotion back to the Premier league, and the second side from the Reserve B league.
Paterson recalled a two-day match against Cape Town Cricket Club, a team filled with veteran cricketers. With UCT needing to win their last four matches to win promotion, the heat was on.
“The second team chased down 230 in the first innings and 220 in the second innings, both with just a couple of wickets in hand and with a few overs remaining. I think that shows the quality of cricket that’s being played at UCT and the depth of the sides that we can go and chase scores like that in the second team,” he said.
He was also pleased with the club’s social aspect – they’re a tight-knit group and he had no doubt that had a major impact on the quality of cricket they played.
A word from the coach
Head coach Ryan Maron presided over a successful season for all three teams. Speaking from the Caribbean, where he was coaching Afghanistan in a limited-overs series against the West Indies, Maron offered his take on the past season.
Winning Club of the Year was a “massive honour”, but it wasn’t necessarily their goal for this season, he said.
“But I do believe that by putting the correct structures and philosophies in place, the end goal was always going to be some kind of reward, either winning trophies or Club of the Year. The guys enjoyed their cricket, performed well and we got good results from it.”
It was, however, “definitely, definitely not” expected, said Paterson.
“We’ve had a quite a rough run over the past few years and have just been avoiding relegation, fighting to stay in our leagues, so the club was in quite a tough position,” he said.
A new committee had just come on board a year ago, and everyone was a bit wary of what the future held, the captain said.
“But at the end of the season things paid off.”
An excellent problem
Maron’s men had to overcome a difficult start when restructured exam timetables and a few injuries meant they couldn’t field a full first team until halfway through the season.
“Convincingly beating TUT in the Varsity Cup qualifiers; players like Brandon Tatton scoring four 100s and a 90 against some top opposition; and beating Kovsies in the Varsity Cup was a highlight,” Maron remembered some of the sweeter moments.
He lauded assistant coach Bulelani Libazi, Paterson and the club’s committee and support staff for their sterling work. He was also pleased at the buy-in to the club’s philosophies – largely facilitated by groundwork the committee laid – which meant that at some points during the season there were simply too many good players ready to play.
“An excellent problem to have,” said Maron.
He also praised coach Hayden Higgs, in charge of the second team, whose professional attitude ensured the club had a wealth of players ready to step up to the first team.
With continued support from the university, and with some skilful young cricketers breaking through, Maron is confident that the best is yet to come for UCT Cricket Club.
“I believe we’re on the right track to make UCT a force in the Western Cape,” he said.
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