Quintin van Jaarsveld
Excitement is at a fever pitch ahead of the historic cricket feast at Port Shepstone Country Club, where the Hollywoodbets Dolphins and VBK Knights are set to clash on 4-5 September.
The franchises will face-off in the first-ever first-class cricket matches to be staged on the South Coast, with the double header, sponsored by RotoTank, getting underway with a 50-over pre-season match at 10am on Tuesday, 4 September.
The Durban side will meet the men from Bloemfontein in a T20 clash the following day at 2pm, allowing school learners to watch their heroes in action, before the stars of both teams tee it up with locals on the golf course on Thursday, 6 September.
“The South Coast has never seen cricket of this calibre. The franchises are bringing their full teams, so locals will get to see a lot of star players and top-class cricket,” organising committee chairman, Rudi Steyn, told eHowzit.
It’s set to be a homecoming for Proteas and Dolphins all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, who grew up on the South Coast and attended Margate Primary.
At 22, the right-arm medium-fast bowler and left-handed batsman has already played for the Proteas in all three formats and has produced a number of match-winning performances, including a career-best 42 not out against Australia to clinch the ODI series in 2016.
South Africa ‘A’ and Dolphins captain Khaya Zondo dazzled fans in another first – a T20 exhibition game against a Southern Natal Cricket Union Invitational XI in June – and is primed for another big performance.
Veteran wicketkeeper batsman Morné van Wyk has played 17 ODIs and eight T20 internationals and boasts a full bag of crowd-pleasing shots.
He’s in the T20I record books, having scored the fastest fifty by a South African against India, which came off just 24 balls back in 2011, and as the third Proteas player to score a T20I century, having blasted an unbeaten 114 from 70 balls against the West Indies in 2015.
Pite van Biljon will captain the Knights, who boast the likes of Proteas Ryan McLaren and Duanne Olivier.
All-rounder McLaren became the first South African to take a T20I five-wicket haul with a return of 5/19 against the Windies in 2010. It remains the best-ever bowling figures by a Protea in T20 cricket.
Right-arm quick Olivier has five Tests to his name and was named First-Class Cricketer of the Season last year.
Steyn, a former Proteas opener in his own right, said, “Having been involved in sport down here for many years, locals have being asking for big events and said they’ve felt forgotten [by leading sports franchises]for a long time. That formed part of the driving force to bring these games to the South Coast.
“We had the recent ‘pre-run’ between the Dolphins and the South Coast side with the goal of landing a game of this stature, which again has never been played down here, and we’re excited that we’re days away.
“We’re trying to promote and develop cricket on the South Coast and this will play a big role in that as we’ve made it a fundraiser for Port Shepstone Country Club’s cricket facilities.
“We’re very grateful that RotoTank has come on board as main sponsor and East Coast Radio will be coming down for the T20 game.
“We’re aiming to host an annual Dolphins game – that’s our big goal – and therefore we urge locals to really come out and support these games.”
To book a round of golf with a player in a fourball, contact the Port Shepstone Country Club Pro Shop on 039 695 0140.