LPL widening Wits’ boundaries

The Varsity Cricket preparatory T20 tournament put Wits’ cricketers up against the LPL All Stars on Tuesday night and saw Wits crumble under the opposition’s batting power. 


STUNNED SILENCE: The Wits performance cricket squad watching their team mates bat from the Walter Milton oval’s balcony during the first innings of Tuesday night’s game against Lenasia Premier League All Stars. LPL beat the Wits squad’s score of 146 for five with three overs to spare. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The LPL All Stars hit Wits’ high performance cricket squad for six on Tuesday night at the Walter Milton oval with three overs to spare.

The Varsity Cricket preparatory T20 tournament has lined-up Wits to play a five match series against the Lenasia Premier League (LPL) All Stars.

Their first match on Tuesday night gave us a taste of some of the skills and action we can expect from the rest of the series.

Wits made 146 for the loss of five wickets in their 20 overs. LPL chased down the score in just 17.4 overs with 7 wickets remaining.

LPL’s opening batsman, 22-year-old Yassar Cook, was batsman of the game with an undefeated 71 off just 51 balls. Cook’s fellow Gauteng squad teammate Nono Pongolo (25) was Wits’ top scorer and captain, who scored an unbeaten 43 runs off just 33 balls.

“The main focus for us with this tournament is to make sure that our youngsters who were chosen from the LPL tournament learn something and become better cricketers”, said LPL coach, Juan Le-Maitre.

To the Wits squad coach, Neil Levenson, a win was important, “but it’s more about the development of the squad and pushing the players a bit more.”

After playing the same team a few times they start to pick-up your tactics, which is the challenge of this tournament, according to Coach Le-Maitre.

“The Wits team has a good young side and we shouldn’t underestimate them”, said LPL captain, Juanré Potgieter. LPL’s weakness lies in that they can take the Wits squad for granted, because they have a better team with more provincial players, according to Potgieter.

Before the game Pongolo told his squad to learn as much as they can from the more experienced LPL team and enjoy the ride. “This is such a big occasion and as much as we want to win the tournament, our sole focus is to grow as a team.”

Despite the loss, the Wits squad keeps a professional mentality. “We’ve been working on T20 skills after the season break. We studied the opposing team’s player profiles and know the players well,” said Levenson.

With four games left to play in the tournament the final wicket hasn’t fallen yet and Wits still stands a chance at lifting the trophy.

CRICKET: Randburg gives Wits the edge

Croxley Wits Cricket Club lost by two wickets in their league match against Randburg Cricket Club last Sunday.

The teams were evenly matched but Randburg managed to limit Wits’ total to 184.

Randburg coach, Kurt Human said his team’s performance went according to plan. “We wanted to come in here and try and restrict them … what we wanted was to bowl first and get four wickets down earlier on,” he said.

Tiro Madiseng, Randburg captain added, “Patience was the key for us. We’re hoping to get as close as possible to the top because they bit us the first time.”

Wits captain Nono Pongolo said their batting was not what they had hoped it would be, “we let ourselves down with the bat, losing soft wickets”.

The second half of the match saw Wits bowling soft balls giving Randburg the chance to score easy runs.

“Thanks to the bowlers we got a decent score that gave us a fighting chance. We fought well, but they wanted it more in the end,”

After a short break Randburg lost 4 wickets in quick succession, slowing their pace.

Even though Wits managed to push a little more, the team was a little too late when Randburg finished the game with a total of 191-8.

“We had a couple of half chances we did not hold on to, if we held on to those two or three chances we could have had three to five wickets down by now,” said player-coach Neil Levenson said.

“Thanks to the bowlers we got a decent score that gave us a fighting chance. We fought well, but they (Randburg) wanted it more in the end,” Pongolo said.

Even though Randburg managed to score 13 more points in the league for winning the game, Wits still remains in second place.

Wits still has two more games to play until the Gauteng Premier league is over.

Wits cricket ready to play ball

OUR BOYS: Members of the Wits Cricket Club taking a breather to enjoy some team time together.                                                                                                                                                                             Photo: Ilanit Chernick

OUR BOYS: Members of the Wits Cricket Club taking a breather to enjoy some team time together. Photo: Ilanit Chernick

The Wits Cricket Club has started 2015 with a bang. The Varsity Premier league is in full swing with Wits currently in second position.
Wits finished third overall in last year’s Premier League.
With four Wits teams playing in a number of different leagues, Presidents cricket squad captain and premier league spin bowler Joshua Datnow said: “There is a lot of cricket to go round.”
“We have a lot of youngsters in first year who we are developing. Our goal for this year to become an A division team in the Premier League,” he said.
Datnow said the team are inspired to play for “the Kudu Heart badge” and their aim is to make the university proud.
“Our game performance stems from the pride we have for our university.”

“Our game performance stems from the pride we have for our university. We play for each other and to bring pride to our university.”

With three games being played every weekend until April, Datnow said the team does face its challenges and tough opposition.
“There are some brilliant players on our opponents’ teams.
Opponents like the Caxton Khosas or Randfontein have Strikers playing on their team so when we play them we try make sure to be in top form.”
The team also undergoes regular group therapy sessions to help them deal with the pressure of the game.
“We’re being taught relaxation techniques and guided processes to help us deal with any difficulties that may arise during matches.”
In their free time the teams also enjoy tenpin bowling, going out for dinner together and recently went to the Wits Sports Party together.
“Bonding time is important so that our team gels well,” Datnow said.
“It’s the dream for all of us playing to be able to make it big. You just have to work hard and play even harder,” he said.
The team will be heading on tour to Limpopo later this year and they will also be playing a number of three-day games.
Matches will be taking place for the next seven weeks every Saturday and Sunday from 9.15am at the Walter Milton Oval on East Campus.

Wits Cricket addresses player depth issue

In sport, any sport, there are those who excel and those that struggle. Ferrari and Barcelona are not in the same league as Lotus and Derby County.


But then there are those that are nearly there. Those teams that are too good for the minnows, but not good enough for the big time.


In the Gauteng Club Cricket league, Wits University is one of those teams.


However, things are slowly changing for the men in blue. A new coach has been appointed, senior players have left, leaving the door open for hungry replacements, and the energy around the club has a sense of new beginnings.


There are challenges and issues that need to be addressed before Wits can return to the glory days. Depth of talent is a problem, with many of the bigger clubs like Old Eds and Glenvista attracting young players.


To address this, Wits has launched a 20/20 inter schools knockout tournament featuring some of the top schools in the city.


Marius Henn, a senior sports administrator at Wits  feels the university has not done enough to promote themselves amongst pupils and recruit cricket talent from high schools.


“We cannot compete financially with other universities in the area to attract top notch athletes; however we need to make the schools aware that we also provide sport here with top facilities.”


With the chance to play on a top class field (the International Cricket Council has hosted international matches on the Walter Milton Oval) these school boys will get to experience firsthand what Wits cricket can offer.


Teams included feature Jeppe High, St John’s College and Parktown High.
The final will take place at Wits on 20 September 2011.


An invitational side will be selected at the end of the competition, which will play against the Wits first cricket side at a future date still to be determined.

New Beginnings for Wits Cricket

WITS cricket has appointed Hancke von Rauenstein as the new first team head coach for the upcoming season. A former Free State amateur player and head coach of the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein, Von Rauenstein is looking forward to the challenge of cementing Wits as a top club in the league.

Von Rauenstein is under no illusion as to what the primary goal is for his new team.

“We have to gain promotion into the top division, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “With the number of players available, the facilities on offer and the way the club is run, there is no doubt that Wits should be competing in the top league.”

The previous coach, Aldo van den Berg, was not the only departure from the squad. Senior players including opening batsman Andrew Kirkland and leading leg-spinner Eddie Leie have moved on to other clubs and Wits will now have to rebuild. According to on Rauenstein this will have little effect on his approach.


“All I can do is what I know. My strategy is to help the individual achieve what he wants by creating a first-class environment at practice and on match days. A happy team is a successful team and I want all the players in both the first and second teams to feel comfortable.”


Stability breeds success in any sports team and most sides that go through a rebuilding phase struggle initially. This does not concern all-rounder Thabiso Tshabalala who views this coming season as an exciting time in Wits cricket.


“A new coach means new opportunities for players who were left behind by the old regime. There are hungry players who are eager to prove to themselves and the selectors that they deserve a place in the first team.”


Club captain Mark Waspe agrees and is optimistic that Von Rauenstein can bring Wits back to its former glory.


“We want to win trophies again and be competing in the top league. This is a rebuilding period but that does not have to be a negative. Everyone is starting from scratch again and there will be plenty of competition for places.”


With a proposed 20/20 Varsity Cup in September on the cards, all Wits players will be hoping to impress the new coach and get Wits cricket back to where it belongs.