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Simply the best: 2022 Varsity Cricket team of the tournament


Exhilarating entertainment was the theme of the 2022 Varsity Cricket tournament from 3-5 October that formed part of the Festival of Varsity Sports at UP-Tuks in Pretoria this week and we take a look at the highlights and picked a Varsity Cricket XI for the 2022 edition comprised of the players who put in outstanding performances!

Maties were crowned as Varsity Cricket champions to bag a maiden title against the North-West University (NWU) who fell just short in a cracking final.

CUT made the semi-finals for the first time while Tuks failed to make the final for the first time in history, even though they played on home soil.

Maties came into the tournament with a team stacked with SA u.19 talent (George van Heerden, Michael Copeland, Valentine Kitime, Ethan Cunningham and Kaden Solomons), but they did not ride on their reputation and backed it up on the field.

Overall, Maties deserve to take the title based on the character they should in pressure situations and their ability to keep believing in themselves even when the going got tough. In the final, Ryan Bailey’s side, were struggling to keep the NWU in check as they reached 118/0 batting first.

With their backs against the wall, they sent out their player of the tournament, wrist spinner, Benjamin Ward, into battle. He delivered with two crucial wickets and swung the game back into Maties’ reach.

Their batsman never panicked in the tournament. If a top order player misfired, they could always count on the middle and lower order to pull them thorough. George van Heerden was their star batsman who scored 207 runs in the tournament at an average of 51.8.

They also won all their matches batting second – a testament to their ability to control a chase, as no total seemed to phase the Maroon Machine.

Maties kept their best performance for the final and sealed the win with a six – it doesn’t get any better than that.

2022 Varsity Cricket team of the tournament (XI)

  1. Eben Botha (NWU)

NWU’s aggressive run scoring machine hit the only century of the tournament with a 113* (58) against UCT-Ikeys. Botha was also the top run scorer with 227 runs at an average of 56.8 and strike rate of 174.62. His swashbuckling approach gave NWU the start they needed most often than not. He also smashed the most sixes (12) and fours (25).

  • JP King (NWU)

Botha’s opening partner also had a brilliant tournament smashing 188 runs at an average of 62.7 and strike rate of 139. He also played a major role in the final carrying his bat with 75 (53) with a fantastic innings. King will definitely have scouts sitting up and taking notice of this young talent.

  • Mark Amm (Madibaz)

Amm opened the innings for the Madibaz during the tournament, but he can slot in at number three in this line-up as a power hitter. Amm made 167 runs at an average of 41.8 during the tournament, most often keeping his team in the game. He also hit two half-centuries.

  • George van Heerden (Maties)

Maties’ best batsman of the tournament was the epitome of consistency scoring 207 runs at an average of 51.8 a high score of 46 and a strike rate of 145.77. Van Heerden also pummeled 11 sixes, the second most of the tournament and did his reputation no harm with a classy performance.

  • Jack Lees (UP-Tuks)

Lees was one of the shining lights for Tuks in a disappointing campaign. The middle-order batsman was always amongst the runs, stroking 145 runs at an average of 45. Lees provides the perfect foil in the middle order to stabilise the innings.

  • Garnett Tarr (CUT)

This is an interesting choice, considering that Tarr opened the batting for CUT, but he kept picked based on his performances with the bat and that he was the best wicket-keeper during the tournament. Tarr made 5 dismissals and also hit 94 runs, the most of any keeper during the tournament. His strike rate of 142.42 is also impressive and most often played an integral role in CUT’s semi-final charge.

  • Don Glover (Maties)

It is safe to say that Don Glover might have played one of the most crucial and underrated roles in the Maties team – the finisher.

A strike rate of 186.27 and valuable knocks against UJ 32* (19), UWC 29 (14) and NWU 21* (8) took Maties to victory on numerous occasions.

He also had the average of 56.75, due to the fact that he was only dismissed once in the tournament. He smashed 7 fours and 6 sixes, most notably a boundary clearing heave to take Maties to their first title.

  • Benjamin Ward (Maties)

The Player of the Tournament is none other than Maties’ spin sensation, Benjamin Ward. Ward took 13 wickets at an average of 10.2, economy of 6.9 and strike rate of 8.8. His biggest highlight was a superb hat-trick against UP-Tuks in the semi-final where he also picked up an incredible 4 wickets in one over. He also showed his competence with the bat scoring an important 30* (19) against UJ in the opening game.

  • Caleb Seleka (NWU)

Another leg spinner who impressed was Caleb Seleka of the NWU. He was the only bowler to take 5 wickets in an innings at a superb economy rate of 4.6. His control was exemplary and always gave the NWU a wicket-taking option. He was also the second highest wicket-taker during Varsity Cricket with 9 wickets.

  1. Philip Kleynhans (Maties)

Maties’ premier pacer was a revelation, especially in the final where he bowled beautifully in the death overs against the NWU. He took 8 wickets during the tournament at a steady economy of 6.3 and strike rate of 11.75 and average of 12.3. Kleynhans has played Varsity Cricket since 2018 and his experience came in handy in this trophy winning team.

  1. Edumisa Dlulemnyango (NWU)

The second medium pacer in this line-up is NWU’s Edumisa Dlulemnyango, a promising prospect who made his debut in Varsity Cricket as a first year. The youngster kept his nerve in the final picking up 2/22 in his four overs. He also picked up 6 wickets throughout the tournament at a tidy economy of 6.6 and average of 18.8.

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