EP Rural cricket team make history in SA tournament final

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The EP Grahamstown rural cricket team pulled off a history-making feat by winning the Cricket SA Coastal Rural cricket week in Boland on Thursday last week for the first time in their history.

EP Grahamstown Rural turned things around despite losing their first match to qualify for the Vredenburg final where they beat the powerful Boland outfit by 7 runs in a close-fought but low-scoring encounter to finally claim the trophy.

Ever since the national competition’s inception a few seasons ago, the regional team of club cricketers from Ndlambe and Makana who play under the auspices of  Grahamstown Cricket Board had never won the tournament.

President of Rural Cricket SA, Leon Coetzee, who is also GCB president, says it was a proud moment when he handed over the trophy to the EP players and described their success as a “huge achievement”.

“There were some good players in the past who represented EP Grahamstown  but always fell short at this tournament unfortunately. But somehow this year these bunch of players actually impressed everyone and played very well.  I was absolutely over the moon,” said Coetzee. 

“There was no tournament last year and I could sense a wonderful team spirit this time around however; they had that urge to win as they had unfinished business against Boland and SWD. They were really pumped up,” said Coetzee.

“Though I was at the grounds all week in my capacity as president of Rural Cricket, I had to tell my colleagues I am putting on my GCB hat once the boys had won the trophy and had the absolute honour of  handing it over to winning captain Cariston Haarhoff …  It was truly a great feeling.”

Coetzee said the week’s matches at various venues in the Boland from February 18-22 – a series of T20 and 50-over games – played among eight teams were extremely competitive, The teams were  EP Grahamstown, EP Midlands, Border Aloes, Border Country, Border Villages, Kei, SWD and Boland.

“I’m not shy to say it but we have one of the better rural leagues in the country. Our [GCB] rural league is competitive and the quality of cricket is very good. We are really privileged to have all these farming communities around us who make their wonderful facilities available for the whole league to play on,” said Coetzee.

“The camaraderie and the will to win was there and captain Cariston Haarhof [Willows] and vice-captain Buster Brotherton [Salem] led their team  excellently. They looked like a happy team … even up to the 12th man carrying the drinks. Even losing the first T20 game to Boland didn’t get them down, the team spirit and will to win was still there.

 “In the lead up to the 120th anniversary of Pineapple this is a very important victory that would greatly assist the game in our areas as we move forward.  Well done and congratulations to the team,” added Coetzee. 

The EP Rural team’s vice-captain, Buster Brotherton of Salem CC who also captains the club, said it was a fantastic feeling to have finally come good in the tournament. 

“We lost our first game against Boland and we knew from that we had to pick ourselves up which we fortunately did.”

Brotherton said following the success, they were justified in their belief the Ndlambe-Makhanda region had one of the strongest rural leagues in the country.

“It justifies that notion indeed. The Boland League is very competitive and very professional too and a few of their players play in that league. The same goes for SWD, We in the EP Grahamstown side are from mostly farming communities and therefore our success is even more amazing.”

Brotherton said the victory in a very competitive environment showcased the talent available in the region and did a lot for the growth and development of the game.

He said Haarhoff his captain and tournament teammate, was a player who was confident and vocal on the field. “That’s a good thing as he leads from the front and that is quite awesome from a team spirit perspective.

“We make a good team and he is a good leader and allows people to have a say, for example when it comes to field placings.             

   “Another good thing is that we had players representative across all the seven 1st team clubs from our local GCB league … and there was always a great team spirit. We are really a special team of 13 players.” 

Final played at Vredenburg (T20)

 

EP Grahamstown Rural 101/6 (20)

 

Batting

Josh van Rensburg 25 (37)

Jurie Norval 18 (15)

Marquin Loutz 15(11)

 

Boland 95/5 (20)

 

Bowling;

Marquin Loutz 1/13

Jurie Norval 1/20

 

Result: EP win by 7 runs

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