MOMENTUM’S Friendship Games are already narrowing the gap between traditional cricket schools and Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Hubs and Regional Performance Centres (RPCs) teams.
This is according to Gelvandale Hub head coach Robin du Plessis, whose under-15 side gave a much-improved account of itself in its return T20 fixture against Grey High School in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (October 28).
The Friendship Games are essentially partners CSA and Momentum’s efforts at up-skilling the development Hubs and RPCs by getting them to play against traditional cricket schools, some of which have produced national as well as first-class players.
Grey is the alma mater of the Pollock brothers, Peter and Graeme, Dave Callaghan, Johan Botha and current Protea Wayne Parnell, while the Gelvandale area has given South African cricket former Proteas Ashwell Prince, Robin Peterson and recent national team coach Russell Domingo.
And after his team was “demolished” in the corresponding fixture last season, Du Plessis said he could already see the improvement: “For us to have batted 20 overs is an achievement, the main thing is to see improvement and to strive for better next time.
“We’re still not where we should be but there’s improvement and that’s the most important thing for now.”
Grey coach Corbin Dolley agreed with Du Plessis on his team having delivered a much improved performance.
“It was a great display of cricket all round by both teams, but I must credit the Gelvandale Hub for an improved performance compared to earlier in the year,” said Dolley. “They have to work harder for next time and for our boys to keep pushing the boundaries.”
Asked what the main difference was between the traditional cricket schools and their Hub and RPC counterparts, Du Plessis said it was between the ears.
“There’s not much of a difference, but the major difference I’ve figured out is psychologically and mentally,” he explained. “I don’t think our township school cricketers are confident in themselves, I think they hold their talent within themselves and don’t express it when they come to play here.
“Today I could see in the warm-up that mentally they weren’t quite up to it, and as soon as you’re not mentally up for it you can’t expect it to go well on the field. Preparing them mentally so that they can perform better is something my team and I should look into.”
That said, Du Plessis said the great thing about the Momentum Friendship Games was how they shone a spotlight on the Hub and RPC teams’ weaknesses.
“These games are key and vital for us,” he explained. “The key factor for us is improving mentally, so I can go back with the knowledge of exactly what we need to work on and say, ‘we need to work on our self-confidence’.
“These games help us pick out the areas in which we need to improve as people, cricketers and coaches.”
Three games (St Stithians v Alexandra Hub, Potchefstroom Gimnasium v Matlosana Hub and Gelvandale Hub v Grey High) have already been played in October.
A further six matches will be played this season in the following cities: Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, East London, Kimberley and Bloemfontein.