Paarl Boys High were convincing winners of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) Schools Twenty20 (T20) Challenge, beating Northern Cape by four wickets in the final at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on Sunday.
Paarl, representing the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras – current holders of the senior T20 title – were deserving winners, remaining unbeaten throughout the national finals weekend.
It was heartbreak again for Northern Cape, who lost in a super over to Waterkloof Hoerskool in the final in Stellenbosch last year. The Chevrolet Knights side won the toss and chose to bat first, posting a total of 120 for nine. Xander Pitchers made 40 off 36 balls, including a six and four fours. Diego Rosier, who was Northern Cape’s leading run scorer for the tournament, was looking good for another big score until he was clean bowled by Bjorn Fortuin for 21. Paarl took wickets at regular intervals, with Darren Papier the pick of the bowlers, claiming three wickets for 16 runs. Jean-Luc du Plessis, son of Springbok great Carel du Plessis, took two for 21.
Northern Cape knew they needed to take wickets to have any chance of winning and there were noisy celebrations when Sergio Arends picked up the wicket of Marcke Cilliers for four in the second over. There were even noisier celebrations when GM Bruwer took a superb catch off the bowling of Arends to dismiss Hanno Kotze for 10. The Chevrolet Knights team kept chipping away with regular wickets and with rain clouds looming, they appeared to have a good chance of victory, as Paarl slipped behind the Duckworth/Lewis total. When Paarl were on 53/4 in the eighth over, the rains came, with Paarl needing a total of 60 to win.
But the shower lasted only a few minutes and the players were back on the field in a short time. Paarl began to pile on the runs, with Man of the Match Nelis van Rensburg making an unbeaten 51 off 43 balls. Paarl lost two more wickets, but although Northern Cape tried valiantly to stem the flow of runs, they reached the target with nine balls in hand.
“It means so much to us,” said Paarl captain Eddie Schutte. “We’re traditionally a rugby school, and it is wonderful to show what we can do in cricket as well. We reached the regional finals in 2010 and 2011, so we were overjoyed when we got to the national finals this year.
“Our headmaster promised us that if we won the tournament, the prize money will be used to develop indoor nets at the school – and our photo will be on the wall.”
Northern Cape captain Rosier said his players were deeply disappointed to have lost the final for the second time, but he conceded that they had not scored enough runs.
“Paarl kept things very tight – we were aiming for 160, and we knew it was going to be a struggle. But I’m very proud of the way we played, and I can assure you that Northern Cape High will be back next year.”
He said his school would use the prize money to develop turf nets.
Paarl Boys High won a total of R100 000 and Northern Cape R60 000. Hanno Kotze, who was the leading run scorer for the tournament, was named Man of the Series.