For Aiden Markram and Corbin Bosch, it was their second World Cup triumph of the year, following their victory with the South Africa U19 team at the ICC Junior World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in March. The Campus Cricket World Finals are effectively a Varsity T20 World Cup, with the student champions from eight nations taking part.
While Markram and Bosch, and other star players such as Theunis de Bruyn, Vincent Moore and Heinrich Klaasen all enjoyed excellent tournaments for Tuks, their heroes in the crucial knockout stage were two of their lesser-known players, Johan Wessels and Ruben Claassen.
Tuks had breezed into the semi-finals by beating Bangladesh’s University of the Liberal Arts, hosts Leeds Bradford MCCU and the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association, but they had their hands full when they took on defending champions Rizvi College of Mumbai in the final four.
Rizvi had won the toss and elected to bat first, and had cruised to 83 for two in the 12th over before Tuks regained control through spinners Claassen and David Mogotlane.
Lanky off-spinner Claassen produced a brilliant spell of 4-1-10-2, with Mogotlane adding pressure with four overs for just 20 runs, and the Indian team’s lower-order then collapsed to the canny death bowling of Bosch (2-26) and Moore to finish on 122 for nine.
The Tuks run-chase had an anxious start openers Markram and Gerry Pike were out in the first three overs, before De Bruyn (31) and Wessels steadied the innings with a third-wicket stand of 54 in 7.2 overs.
But the loss of three wickets in quick succession, including captain De Bruyn, meant Tuks were under pressure at 90 for five after 15 overs.
But Klaasen (18* off 12) and the inspired Wessels (56* off 52) mounted a rousing comeback that took Tuks home in the 20th over.
In the final, the Tuks total of 188 for six against the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association was built around a ferocious 61 off 40 balls from Wessels.
Pacemen Moore and Bosch then 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 the outstanding Claassen, who took one for 10 in four overs.
Markram, who finished as the tournament’s second highest run-scorer behind De Bruyn, had given the Tuks innings a good start, after they had won the toss, with his 33 off 26 balls, but Wessels, who has no first-class experience nor national U19 caps, kept the scoreboard ticking over and then accelerated brilliantly as the University of Pretoria students posted a formidable total.
Dickson scored 39 off 31 balls to finish the job, while Tian Koekemoer and Bosch provided important cameos right at the death.
Coach Pierre de Bruyn was full of praise for Wessels, the 22-year-old who was superb on finals day, and Claassen.
“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 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. He’s unique, he’s tall, he gets bounce and he’s not scared to experiment,” De Bruyn said.
While Wessels was named man of the match in both the semi-final and final, Theunis de Bruyn was selected as the Player of the Tournament, having set the tone for Tuks’ triumph with a phenomenal 137 not out off 60 balls against the Bangladeshis on the opening day.
“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,” coach De Bruyn said.
“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.”