Barbados here we come

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MORGAN PIEK

The ICC Cricket World Cup gets underway in just over a fortnight as world cricket lovers turn their eyes to Australia and New Zealand for the sport’s flagship event.

While Australia will officially head into the tournament as the ICC’s top One-day International team, South Africa have been given the favourites tag…a title which they have embraced. Recently South Africa wrapped their five-match ODI series against the West Indies with a 4-1 series win to go along their test series win. This brought an end to a thrilling summer of Caribbean flair to South Africa.

However, while it ends for the country’s big guns, the calypso adventure only just begins for one cricket team from Bloemfontein. Meet the Bloemfontein Rebels, a Last Man Stands team from the City of Roses. You may ask what Last Man Stands may be. It’s simple – it’s the latest craze to hit the cricketing world, and its popularity is growing rapidly.

Played by mostly club and social cricketers, it’s a version of the T20-format, with eight players per team. While conventional cricket sees a team’s innings come to an end when 10 of 11 batsman have been dismissed, LSM (as the players refer to it) sees the last batsman continue with the innings until he is either dismissed or carries his bat through the allotted 20 overs. Furthermore, T20 rules are applicable.

The Rebels were recently crowned as the national champions when they won the 2014 Nationals in Port Elizabeth where the country’s top 24 teams went head-to-head. This has earned them the right to represent South African at the 10th World Championships taking place in Barbados next month.

An impressive record of just four losses in their 50 matches to date sees the Rebels heading to the sleepy island in the Caribbean as serious contenders for the world title. Rebels’ captain, Jaco Kotze, told Courant his chargers fancy their chances against the best the world has to offer.

"We do have a lot of confidence going into it and it’s going to be nice, we’re looking forward to it," the 39-year-old said.

He added that they were looking forward to their long trip and playing the game they love.

"It’s a good opportunity for us, it’s been going for two years now in Bloem. The SA champs come from Bloem and it seems as if the 2015 national championships will be held here, so we’re looking forward to it," Kotze added.

The player who is a well-known name in Bloemfontein’s club cricket circle added that his lads not only want to enjoy the tournament, but they are also playing to return home as the champions.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re planning on grabbing it with both hands…and we’re planning on winning.

Archie Coetzee, a long-time wicketkeeper for Bobbies cricket goes into the side as one of their stalwarts, however Marius Swart is their star bowler and goes to their Caribbean at the fourth ranked bowler in the world. However, Kotze said their whole team played a part in their tremendous success.

Former Cheetahs and Free State centre, Hendrik Meyer who has a Currie Cup title to his name, owns the local franchise of LSM, and despite playing for the Nashua Pumas, he feels it’s a big deal for the City of Roses.

“It’s massive, especially for Bloem. We’re also looking at hosting the South African champs this year, so it’s big for us,” Meyer said.

The tournament in Barbados runs from 20 to 28 March, 2015.