Such is the talent and efficiency of this Assupol Tuks team that they beat the Australia-bound South Africa A side in two warm-up games in the last week, and they must be one of the favourites to win what amounts to a T20 Varsity World Cup.
The student champions from eight different countries will be competing in the Campus Cricket Finals, which start on Monday, concluding with the final on Saturday evening.
“I’m really chuffed with our preparation, it was great for the guys to play against SA A and measure themselves. And we managed to ruffle a few feathers as well!
“SA A retired a couple of batsmen in the T20 game, but at the end of the day we took five wickets in the last four overs to win that match, and in the 50-over game, we were very convincing winners with seven overs to spare.
“We had our last net this [Wednesday] morning and everyone’s looking confident and very excited. We’re expecting a very high standard at the tournament, but we’re going there to win,” De Bruyn told The Pretoria News yesterday.
The fact that Tuks managed to beat the second tier of South Africa’s best cricketers suggests the opposition could be mourners by the end of the week in London. The draw for the three other teams in Tuks’s pool will only be made on Sunday, but the other competing teams are Leeds Bradford MCC (UK), University of New South Wales (Australia), University of Liberal Arts (Bangladesh), defending champions Rizvi College (India), Karachi University (Pakistan), International College of Business and Technology (Sri Lanka) and Jamaica University (West Indies).
As SA A discovered, coming up against pace bowlers Vincent Moore and Corbin Bosch, and hard-hitting batsmen like Theunis de Bruyn, Sean Dickson, Johan Wessels, Heinrich Klaasen and Aiden Markram is a daunting task.
While there is obviously enormous talent in the Tuks side, it is the ability of those around the stars – lesser-known players such as Tian Koekemoer, Ruben Claasen and GC Pretorius – to perform under pressure that makes them a formidable outfit. Tuks have been unbeaten for the last three years at the National Club Championships, a remarkable streak of 18 games that proves they know how to win.
“Some people don’t like pressure, but we want it, we thrive on it. We don’t pretend it’s not around and we’ve coached the players to deal with it. They make sure they find a way to perform under pressure and that plays a massive role, they have belief when they’re under the pump because they’ve overcome most pressure situations in the last three years,” De Bruyn, one of the most tenacious cricketers of his era, said.
Wormsley Cricket Club, one of the most beautiful grounds in England, will witness this formidable Tuks side in the group stages, with Saturday’s semi-final and final being held at the Oval, a famous venue fit for youngsters that are bound to make their names in South African cricket.
“How we start is going to be crucial, there’s no room for us to start slowly, there’s no room to try and find our feet or get into an innings or a bowling spell. We have to be on the button from the first ball on Monday,” De Bruyn said.
Tuks squad: Theunis de Bruyn, Heinrich Klaasen, Sean Dickson, Gerry Pike, Aiden Markram, Corbin Bosch, David Mogotlane, Tian Koekemoer, Vincent Moore, Nsovo Baloyi, GC Pretorius, Ruben Claassen, Johan Wessels.