Pineapple Cricket’s opening day a sweet success say organisers

Day One of the 120th edition of Ndlambe’s Pineapple Cricket Tournament was declared a huge success with all preparations going according to plan for the big hit off on Saturday March 2 2024.

For Pineapple Cricket’s committee president, Dave Duncan and his  team of dedicated organisers, the omens are good for the rest of the week as the opening day brought with it impeccable ground conditions, good weather and scintillating cricket.

Duncan’s commitment and passion for the tournament are evidenced by his hands-on approach in the run-up to the event; checking and assisting with clean-up of the various fields, liaising with sponsors and teams, meeting with committee members and ensuring the overall smooth running of the tournament.

Not forgetting dedicated cricket stalwarts such as Salem’s Peter Amm and son, Simon, who had taken on the onerous task of ensuring all fields used for the matches were up to scratch in the lead-up to hit-off.

Communications have been expertly handled by tournament secretary, Megan McCallum, to ensure all the elements were in place in the build-up.

“Everything went off smoothly, everyone especially the team captains have been awesome in assisting with a smooth start to the tournament,” said McCallum.

“Games are under way and already some good scores out there with Wade Mayes of Manley Flats scoring 148. So yes our hearts are settled and we are comfortable that all is in order on the first day of tournament,” McCallum said.

The main ground at Port Alfred Country Club was spic and span as the now familiar tent and clubhouse and some homes on the hill served as the perfect backdrop to the players from Port Alfred and Southwell 2nds doing duty on the pitch.  The PACC outfield which had been a bone of contention due to its “slowness” had been shorn and the pitch fixed up to quicken things up. But this intervention did not prevent the Section A and Section B finals from being moved to the PA High School fields on Saturday March 9.

The PA High School A and B Fields were, as is to be expected, in tip-top shape where Cuylerville, GT Invitational, Rhodes and Salem did battle on the first day. The new matting surface called the “pitch” was the subject of discussion among players. Some said the ball sometimes deviated off the surface. Others like Brandon Handley had said in a previous interview that it took him some time getting used to a matting pitch as opposed to a turf wicket.

However GT Invitational’s Cariston Haarhof said on Saturday, “Blaming the pitch for our low score [53] against Cuylerville would be an unfair assessment. Cuylerville batted on the same pitch and made 195. Their bowlers bowled well and stuck to a good lengths. So there is nothing wrong with the pitch: it was a mixture of good bowling and not so good technique.”

On the A Field, Francois Kloppers’s 72 runs and bowling figures of 5/22 (Player of the Day Award) had Cuylerville on the front foot against the GT Invitational team who collapsed under the all-round game of the tournament’s defending champions who batted first after captain Brandon Handley won the toss. Abongile Hashe was the Makhanda outfit’s best bowler with 4/87.

In their pursuit of 196 for victory, the Makhanda team folded under pressure to be bowled out for 53 in 17 overs to concede defeat to Cuylerville by 142 runs.

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At the school’s B field, Rhodes found the going tough against Salems 1sts with Leard King’s 4/19 and Buster Brotherton’s 3/34 allowing them no more than 107 runs. Salem’s openers Nick Wilmot [50] and Simon Amm [43] made short work of the chase to give Salem victory by 10 wickets.

Wade Mayes’ 148 (Player of the Day) was the standout batting performance of the day for Manley Flats, helping his side to a total of 248. Kenton were bowled out for a below-par 125 with Lester Isaacs taking 5/62 to hand Manley victory by 123 runs.

Tiger Titans put up a brave fight back against Salem 2nds at Hilpert Fields. Salem put up 247 in their innings with the Titans replying with 219 to fall short of victory by 28 runs. Rob van der Merwe shone with the bat for Salem with a well-played 54.  Zakes Simanga weighed in with 44 for Titans.

And at Air School the match between Rainbows and Cuylerville 2nds ended before lunch with Rainbows bowled out for 73. Wrecker-in-chief was Chris Japp whose 7/20  put the skids under Rainbows. Cuylerville achieved the score for the loss of only two wickets.

The prize-giving tent was again the drawcard following completion of all the matches. Duncan who performed MCeeing duties said it was satisfying to see the tent filled to capacity.

“This year we have Kowie Toyota and  Rosehill Spar  as joint sponsors of the tournament … and we must thank Noleen [Noleen Acton Dealer Principal Kowie Toyota Port Alfred] for giving up your sole title sponsorship for the sake of our event.”

Acton said it was once again a pleasure to be present as a main sponsor of Pineapple Cricket.

“It is exciting to be able to do this with our co-sponsors which is Rosehill SuperSpar, the Nemato Spar together with Tops … we are doing it to grow the event and for the betterment of the tournament … and we trust together the two sponsors will be able to take this to 130 years. If we look for a moment at the display that has been done here by all of us sponsors, we are in for eight days of great cricket and good times in the tent.”