Posh universities talk about “reading” a subject at their academic institution so, because I have such great respect for what TuksSport are doing, it is only fair to say that some of the most talented young men in this country are reading cricket at the University of Pretoria.
And they are doing it most successfully judging by the accolades that keep coming the way of the Tuks team so ably coached by Pierre de Bruyn, who has great assistants and backroom support. The Tuks cricket team have just landed in India to represent South Africa as the defending champions in the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals, a global competition for tertiary institutions that has seen more than 200 teams from eight countries try to qualify. It has been called the Student World Cup.
Tuks won the title in fine style in England last year, but this time they travel to India – a new challenge which De Bruyn and his players embrace. Much has been written about playing in the sub-continent, but having completed their usually thorough preparation, De Bruyn says success will come down to the usual factors.
“Although we have six new faces in the team, we have a very nice senior core which the youngsters can feed off. The guys must just express themselves, you can easily over-analyse the conditions and then it becomes overwhelming. It’s about getting the roles right, good discipline and decision-making,” De Bruyn said.
Tuks will surely rely a lot on players who have experienced those conditions before, like captain Aiden Markram, canny seamer Corbin Bosch and off-spinner Ruben Claassen, who is another rising star.
They won’t however, have the explosive batting talents of Heinrich Klaasen, who is on duty with the Titans team.
Franchises are probably going to be relying more and more on players from tertiary institutes, simply because they generally have the financial resources to develop cricketing talent, and there are some university administrators who believe their clubs deserve more than just a pat on the back for their great work. The idea of a “development fee” to be paid whenever a player signs a contract with a higher team, whether that be franchise or national, has been mooted.
While that is a worthy idea, there is always the danger of widening the gap between those who already have and the have-not clubs, of which there are so many in this country in these troubled economic times.
But Cricket South Africa are currently working on a plan to try and support and incentivise clubs, especially those community clubs which cannot rely on strong backing from the structures that exist in tertiary institutes.
The thinking is to replicate the Blue Chip Schools programme which will be announced in the coming weeks with the Blue Flag Cricket Clubs incentive scheme.
The idea, according to the general manager of CSA, Corrie van Zyl, is that clubs gaining a certain percentage on the Clubs Index – which will list desirables like a qualified coach, a constitution, strong membership contributions, maintenance of facilities – will be awarded a Blue Flag designation and receive money as an incentive.
The finer details still need to be worked out, but the money will go direct to the clubs, as opposed to the money CSA normally pours into club cricket which is given to the Affiliate body to distribute.
The clever people at CSA seem to have come up with a good scheme to help the club structures – one of the key foundations of the game – so I guess it’s fair to say they are reading cricket pretty well too.