The title defence begins

The Saint Andrew's spinning all-rounder, Ruan Cronjé, was instrumental in the team's title success last year, and this year the SA Colts player will have an even bigger role to play in their campaign. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The defending national champions, Saint Andrew’s School in Bloemfontein, are in the capital city this week for the National Schools T20 Challenge, which will be contested at the University of Pretoria.

On Friday Saints earned the right to return to the prestigious tournament and represent the VKB Knights by beating Northern Cape High School at the Vossie Field by a 133 runs.
Saints won the toss and decided to have a bat first, and posted 193/5 in their allotted 20 overs.

Henré Koekemoer got the hosts off to a fast start with two fours and a six, but his lost his wicket just as fast in their first over to and Austin Brooker.

Despite the earlier setback, Saints continued to dominate the battle between the bat and ball to set up the more than healthy total.

Corné Viljoen was the star with the willow for the homeside with 61 runs, followed by the former Northern Cape lad, Reeza Alexander, with an unbeaten 31. Rikus Allen contributed with a solid 27 runs.

Tight bowling by Alexander, Ruan Cronjé and Pheko Moletsane, and inclement weather made the runs chase a bridge too far for the visitors from Kimberley, and they ultimately fell way short of the difficult total in the run chase.

Alexander returned the best figures for Saints with 4/13, while Cronjé finished with 3/15 and Moletsane claimed two scalps for just 13 runs.

Saints is the only school that competed in the national last year, who will be making an appearance at the tournament again this year.

The Cape Cobras will be represented by Paarl Gimnasium this year, while the three-time champions, St Stithians, will represent the Highveld Lions. Hoërskool Waterkloof will feature for the host franchise, the Titans, while the Dolphins are represented by St Charle’s College. St Andrew’s College in Grahamstown with be representing the Warriors in Pretoria.
The two focus schools this year will be Hudson Park High School from East London, and Queen’s College from Queenstown.

Saints are in Pool A for the tournament and will be up against St Stithians on Tuks D on Friday morning in their opening game. In the afternoon they will up against Hudson Park on Tuks E. On Saturday morning they take on Paarl Gim on Tuks B, before the next round in the competition.

National finals at the University of Pretoria will be played from the 15th to 17th March. – MORGAN PIEK