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Ken Borland


Lesser-known Wessels & Claassen star for Tuks

Posted on August 03, 2014 by Ken

Johan Wessels and Ruben Claassen, two of the lesser-known stars of the Assupol Tuks team, enjoyed an extraordinary last day at the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals as they led the University of Pretoria to the title in the eight-nation, T20 students’ world cup at the Oval in London at the weekend.

Unbeaten through the group stage, Tuks then won a thrilling semi-final against defending champions Rizvi Mumbai College by five wickets with five balls to spare, before beating Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association by 40 runs in the final.

Wessels was named man of the match in the semi-final and final, scoring half-centuries in both games, and coach Pierre de Bruyn said it was players like him and Claassen, who had combined figures of three for 20 in eight overs on the final day, who had pleased him most.

“It’s the guys without the reputations who really stood up on the final day. Joe Wessels is proving to be a very good player, he played two magnificent innings in the knockout games and I’m ecstatic for him. I’ve used him as a bit of a wildcard and he’s really impressed me as a cricketer.

“Ruben out-bowled everybody in the tournament, including the spinners from the sub-continent. He and Corbin Bosch were the top two wicket-takers and Ruben has improved so much I believe he should be in the Northerns team this summer.

“He’s unique, he’s tall, he gets bounce and he’s not scared to experiment. David Mogotlane has also improved a lot, in all his skills. He’s worked out his game – he’s not a big turner of the ball, but he’s a clever bowler,” De Bruyn said.

In the final, pacemen Vincent Moore and Bosch shared seven wickets as the Jamaicans were restricted to 148 for nine in their 20 overs.

Much of the hard work, however, was done by outstanding off-spinner Claassen, who took one for 10 in four overs, claiming the key scalp of Cassius Burton for 55.

The Tuks total of 188 for six was built around a ferocious 61 off 40 balls from Wessels.

De Bruyn has spent the last few months telling everyone how good a cricketer Wessels, who has no first-class experience nor national U19 caps, is and the 22-year-old was magnificent on finals day, when it really counted.

Aiden Markram had given the Tuks innings a good start, after they had won the toss, with his 33 off 26 balls, but Wessels kept the scoreboard ticking and then had the run-rate boiling over as the University of Pretoria students went into the break with a formidable total on the board.

Sean Dickson scored 39 off 31 balls to finish the job, while Tian Koekemoer (18* off 7) and Bosch (11* off 4) provided important cameos right at the death.

“We’ve had three years of dominance in South Africa and now we wanted to represent our country and measure ourselves on the world stage. I’m over the moon to be able to say we are the best university cricket team in the world, but we worked for it,” De Bruyn said on Sunday.

“We planned for everything and we proved ourselves to everyone. I’m proud of the success and the culture of this team, and nobody can take that away from this side.”

The semi-final was a far tenser affair for De Bruyn and his team.

Rizvi Mumbai had won the toss and elected to bat first, and had cruised to 50 for one after six overs and 83 for two in the 12th over before Tuks regained control through spinners Claassen and David Mogotlane.

Claassen produced another brilliant spell of 4-1-10-2, with Mogotlane applying pressure at the other end as his four overs went for just 20 runs, and the Rizvi lower-order then collapsed to the canny death bowling of Bosch (2-26) and Moore to finish on 122 for nine.

Rizvi seamer John Ebrahim then had Tuks behind the eight-ball as he removed openers Markram and Gerry Pike in his first two overs, before Theunis de Bruyn (31) and Wessels steadied the innings with a third-wicket stand of 54 in 7.2 overs.

But the dismissal of captain De Bruyn, who was named as the Player of the Tournament, and both Koekemoer and Dickson in quick succession meant Tuks were under pressure at 90 for five after 15 overs.

But vice-captain Heinrich Klaasen (18* off 12) and the reliable Wessels (56* off 52) mounted a rearguard action that took Tuks home in the final over.

The efforts of Theunis de Bruyn and Markram in the group games were enough for them to finish as the two leading run-scorers in the tournament, while Wessels charged into third position on the final day.

But all these Tuks cricketers will be heading into the new summer confident of once again really making their mark.

 

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