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Ken Borland

Lesser-known Wessels & Claassen star for Tuks 0

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.


Two hurdles left for clinical Tuks 0

Posted on August 01, 2014 by Ken

Assupol Tuks have carried the same ruthless, clinical form they showed back in South Africa in April when they qualified for the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals into the main event in London and now the University of Pretoria students have just a couple of hurdles left in order to complete their journey to Varsity T20 World Cup glory.

Having whitewashed the University of Stellenbosch 3-0 three months ago to qualify as South Africa’s representatives for the eight-nation tournament, Tuks have duly topped their group at the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals with three emphatic victories and will now take on defending champions Rizvi Mumbai College in the semi-finals today at the Oval.

“I’m very happy with the focus of the side, we’ve set high standards and we’re going to fight all the way to the end. We’ve worked so hard, so we want to be at 100%. We’re playing the defending champions, so they must know they’re in for a fight,” Tuks coach Pierre de Bruyn told The Pretoria News yesterday.

While Rizvi Mumbai won the second edition of the Red Bull Campus Cricket Finals last April in Sri Lanka, they only finished second in Group 1 this year, behind the University of New South Wales, and they are going to have to find a way of matching the tremendous form of the Tuks batsmen.

While comparisons across groups may be a little unfair, Tuks have posted totals of 205-4, 110-3 and 178-5, while Rizvi’s scores have been 123-1, 132-8 and 107-9.

“I haven’t had the chance to watch much of Rizvi, but the standard of their batting is a question, they’ve had a couple of collapses and the Oval pitch looks a bit juicy.

“We wanted to see contributions from all eight of our batsmen and we’ve managed to do that. Theunis de Bruyn and Aiden Markram are the top scorers in the competition, but Johan Wessels has done nicely at four, Heinrich Klaasen has had a couple of good knocks and Sean Dickson has been finishing the innings well. I’m really confident in our batting unit,” De Bruyn said.

Where Tuks will need to make a plan is in terms of the bowling, where a couple of injuries could rob them of the services of two seamers.

Tian Koekemoer has an ankle injury, while Theunis de Bruyn strained a hamstring.

“Tian will definitely play and might even open the batting, but Johan Wessels might have to fill in for him with the ball. Theunis can play, but won’t be able to bowl. So we’re going to have to box clever with the seamers,” coach De Bruyn said.

The Tuks new-ball attack is bound to be a handful, however, particularly if conditions at the Oval today are the same as yesterday. Nobody has taken more wickets in the competition than Corbin Bosch (7), while Vincent Moore has conceded just 46 runs in 10 overs.

And the Tuks spinners have stated their intent to match their sub-continental rivals in no uncertain terms, with Ruben Claasen, David Mogotlane and Markram forming a potent combination.

Rizvi have a lot less pedigree than Tuks when it comes to performances in senior cricket: The University of Pretoria have five first-class cricketers with 125 caps between them across the three formats; Rizvi have one player – Kevin Almeida – who has played three T20s for Mumbai. Plus Markram and Bosch are ICC U19 World Cup winners.

But semi-final, knockout cricket often curdles the brains and stomachs of the supposed favourites and De Bruyn has stressed the importance of being at 100% to his team.

“It’s 50/50 from now on and if we struggle under pressure and make mistakes, then we won’t go through. We need to stay calm, absorb the pressure and eliminate basic mistakes.

“But we’ve been in this situation so many times in the last three years, we want those pressure buttons,” De Bruyn said.

Tuks have been in such control in all three of their matches in London thus far that it is clearly going to take something special from Rizvi to knock them off course, but then again, the Mumbai students are defending their title and will not be in the mood to fold.

The University of New South Wales play the Jamaica Inter-Collegiate Sports Association in the other semi-final today, with the two winners meeting in the grand final this evening [6.30pm SA time].

Red Bull Campus Cricket is for those students who feel left out of ‘the system’ 0

Posted on April 15, 2014 by Ken

Red Bull Campus Cricket is into its third year and is growing rapidly in achieving its goal of making boyhood dreams of playing senior cricket a reality for all those students who missed out on making age-group teams and feel left out of “the system”.

Tukkies and Maties, who meet in the local T20 finals at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday and Wednesday, are the first South African teams to take part as Red Bull Campus Cricket expands into a truly global competition.

Tuks Maties

The Pretoria and Stellenbosch campuses were chosen because they were the two finalists in the national universities week held in December.
India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who competed in the first Asian finals in 2012, were joined by Bangladesh, England and Australia’s champion university teams last year and, now, 2014 sees the entrance of South Africa and the West Indies.

This week’s best-of-three finals at the L.C. de Villiers Oval will decide who will represent South Africa in the World Finals in London in July. India’s DAV Chandigarh are the reigning champions, but will be dethroned as Rizvi Mumbai have already qualified from India this year.
Red Bull Campus Cricket is way more than just a tournament that brings together over 170 universities on four continents, trying to qualify for their national finals and then aiming to be the tertiary institute  that represents their country in the World Finals; it is also an invaluable safety-net for talent that is going to waste.

“The tournament started in India with the first qualifiers in eight cities in October/November 2011 and we went after college students because the insight from India was that students tended to be ignored if they hadn’t made the age-group squads. They were considered to be non-starters by the state teams.

“But it was not necessarily because they didn’t have talent. A lot of students focus on their education at school. They could have been very good at cricket, but they didn’t get the opportunity to play, or they didn’t have a good school team, so they didn’t make it very far.

“These students haven’t had the platform earlier in their career and Red Bull Campus Cricket is about giving these people wings, giving them an opportunity to compete and show that they have the ability,” Red Bull ambassador and Indian star Gautam Gambhir says.

Many pundits have warned that there is a similar weakness in the South African cricket system – that boys who don’t make provincial age-group teams are forever lost to the system.

While there are players in both sides who are already in the franchise system, who knows what other talent is lurking in the ranks of the Tukkies and Maties squads?

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