They lost to Tukkies in the hard-fought 2013/14 final of the University Sports South Africa A Weekin Potchefstroom in December, their second appearance in the final in the last three years.
Maties have come off an unbeaten season in the Boland Premier League, winning the title for the third year in a row, and they have also made five appearances in the National Club Championships, finishing in second place to Tukkies in 2012 and to Constantia of Western Province in 1997.
Several of their players have donned Boland senior colours, most notably batting star Keegan Petersen, captain Emile Kriek, Dewald Botha, Jean Bredenkamp, Leon le Roux and Riyaad Henry.
And despite having lost their last three games against the University of Pretoria, coach Andrew Wylie says there is no way they are just going to bend their knees and gift the current national club and student champions a place in the prestigious World Finals of the Red Bull Campus Cricket Tournament.
“We’ve lost the last three games against Tukkies, but the past doesn’t mean anything this week, playing T20 cricket rather than the longer forms. We’re certainly confident we can beat them, we just need to get all the basics right,” Wylie says.
Petersen is probably their key player and the 20-year-old is already bending the ear of the Cape Cobras selectors with four centuries, including a 225 not out, for Boland this season, having announced himself with a brilliant knock of 187 against South-Western Districts in November 2012.
Riyaad Henry is the son of the legendary Omar, who made his debut for South Africa in the heady days of the 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. That was a big year for the former convenor of the national selectors because Riyaad was also born in July of that year.
While Omar was a left-handed batsman who scored over 4500 first-class runs and an orthodox slow left-armer who took 443 wickets, Riyaad is a right-hand batsman and right-arm paceman who has taken 22 wickets in 10 first-class matches and is talented enough to have played for the SA U19s in 2010.
The strength of the Maties team is players like Henry – bowlers who can bat and batsmen who can do a job with the ball.
“We’re quite flexible and adaptable, we have good batsmen in the top and middle-order and quite a few all-rounders. Our players can perform a variety of roles, depending on conditions,” Wylie says. “We’re not full of superstars, but all the guys chip in.”
Although the Highveld pitches slow down in autumn and become more similar to the tracks in the Winelands, Maties know that the task ahead of them is a tough one.
Wylie says that is only adding to the excitement because the depth of the Boland Premier League is not the same as in the club competitions in the franchise headquarters around the country.
“It’s going to be a nice challenge, that’s what we enjoy. We don’t always get pushed far enough in the Boland,” Wylie says.
University of Stellenbosch squad: Gideon Conradie, Dewald Botha, Jean Bredenkamp, Byron Boshoff, James Groom, Emile Kriek, Johan Koegelenberg, Riyaad Henry, Keegan Petersen, Leon le Roux, Edward Schutte, Niel Botha, Keegan Biassoni.