Tuks’ success – they have gone unbeaten through 18 games and three years in the National Club Championships and have won the Northerns Premier League for the last five years, including an unbeaten run of 85 matches – is down to the perfect dovetailing of wonderful talent, an inspiring coach and tremendous facilities at the same time and in the same place.
Graeme van Buuren, Theunis de Bruyn and Vincent Moore are all players who have already shown great potential at franchise level for the Titans, while Aiden Markram and Corbin Bosch are two future stars fresh from winning the U19 World Cup.
And then there are the lesser known but key players like new-ball pair Gerhard Linde and Sean Nowak, spinners GC Pretorius, Ruben Claasen, Tertius Gouws and David Mogatlane, all-rounders Johan Wessels and Tian Koekemoer, and talented batsmen like Sean Dickson, Heinrich Klaasen, Murray Coetzee and Gerry Pike.
Pierre de Bruyn is the coach who brings all this talent together and gets it performing as a phenomenal unit. A hard-nosed cricketer from Easterns and a protégé of Ray Jennings, De Bruyn believes strongly in work ethic and discipline.
“I wasn’t talented at all but I managed to string together 15 years as a professional cricketer through complete hard work. I always tried to be one step ahead of the guy next to me through focus, discipline and work ethic. I really wanted the tough situation and it helps coaching to have had a tough career myself.
“From what I’ve experienced as a player, I can teach the youngsters how to start and sustain a professional career, both of which are not that easy. I’m working with guys who have everything in terms of talent, but I can really teach them things in terms of mental preparation or how to build an innings,” De Bruyn said.
The professional approach at Tuks has led to someone like national U19 captain Markram making the strides Jennings hoped for when he suggested the batsman go to the University of Pretoria.
“I’m very happy here, the training is awesome, at very high intensity, and this is where my game will improve,” Markram said, and that was borne out by him winning the player of the tournament awards for both the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals, that saw Tuks beat Maties to secure a trip to London for the world finals, and the Momentum National Club Championships.
The considerable support of both the University of Pretoria’s sports office and chief sponsor Assupol ensures that the Tuks cricket team has facilities which are fit for a first-class team and that they have been able to spend R2.5 million on upgrading the nets.
While Tuks’ success is obviously wonderful for the team, their coaching staff and the players’ parents and supporters, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture and that is the benefit Titans cricket derives from their prosperity.
“The Titans definitely benefit from the excellence of Tuks. With full-time coaching, top facilities and the support of the university and a major sponsor, they attract top players. It makes it hard for the other clubs in Northerns, but ultimately it all benefits the Titans,” president John Wright said.