It was not for lack of talent that the Eastern Province Rural (Grahamstown) Cricket team didn’t win a match at the annual Rural Cricket South Africa (RCSA) Week in Kimberley recently. And the stats were not a true reflection what actually happened at the Northern Cape tournament.
The side is young and fairly new and is currently in a building process – but this is a very exciting and promising bunch of players. Notably, they qualified for the all important National Week last year in the SWD and were joint winners with Boland. That already is an indication of the talent within the group and what they are capable of.
In Kimberley they were just plain unlucky. Most of their games, they should have won – but lost narrowly and came out short overall. But they have shown tremendous character and spirit.
The first day was rained out with all the matches cancelled and the weather continued to make things difficult for the rest of the week.
Against KZN they were unlucky to lose after the rain arrived and the Duckworth-Lewis system kicked in. EP were in a very strong position before the rain and their loss was on a technicality.
They lost their match against Mpumalanga by just six runs. That was a game they also should have won. And they can kick themselves not for clinching the game against Limpopo in a low-scoring game. They lost by 10 runs. Most of the games recorded low scores for the teams – a reflection of the difficult playing conditions.
There were a few good performances during the week, however. Ryan Harley scored a hurricane 95 from just 60 balls against Northwest and also recorded a fine 29 in a low scoring game later in the week. Taylor Ntukela was Man of the Match against Mpumalanga for his outstanding bowling performance, taking 6/30 (10). NJ Shabalala shone against Limpopo with the ball with impressive figures of 4/17 (10) while Greg Evans 3/42 (10) and Marquin Loutz 2/22 (7) also bowled well in the same match. Evans and Loutz also contributed 30 and 29 respectively against Mpumalanga in another low scoring affair.
This group has abundant talent and are still very young. There’s a bright future for them and they will surely qualify again for the National Week next year.
Captain Tando Ngcete is full of praise for his side’s work and told Grocott’s Mail how hard they’ve tried, mentioning the difficult conditions in Kimberley.
“We were very unlucky not to win more games – but that is just part of the game that we have to deal with. I am proud of the boys and the amount of talent that’s here. We are currently in a building phase and the Week has taught us a lot. This team will definitely go very far in the future,” Ngcete said.