The Saint Andrew’s, Bloemfontein, 1st XI visited Zimbabwe recently to participate in the Saint John’s Rams T20 Festival as the defending champions.

At this time of year, with matric boys writing prelims and preparing for their matric exams, Saints does not use grade 12 players. They were, however, good enough to romp to the title in 2017 without matric boys, and then, in the first term of 2018 they claimed the national T20 title. This time around, though, they came up just short against sides that included grade 12 players.

Saints began their Zimbabwe tour with a warm-up match against the hosts and enjoyed a comfortable seven-wicket victory with 32 balls to spare after restricting Saint John’s to only 110 for 8. Then it was on to the Festival itself, which features the top six Zimbabwe cricket schools, Saint Andrew’s and Clifton College from Durban.

Up against Churchill in their opener, Saints made a good start, but then poor shot selection saw the boys in blue tumble to just 104 all out. It was going to be a difficult score to defend, but captain Corné Viljoen and company made it tough on their Zimbabwean opposition, with Churchill getting home by three wickets with six balls to spare.

That result meant Saints needed to win their following two pool matches to qualify for the semi-finals.

They took on Falcon College next and posted 164 for 7, led by JD Bruwer’s unbeaten 40. Falcon pushed Saints hard, but in the end, they came up seven runs shy of matching the Saint Andrew’s score, ending on 157 for 7 as Henré Koekemoer claimed 3 for 29.

The next game against Saint George’s College, who had also beaten Falcon, would decide which side progressed to the final four.

Batting first, Saints got away to a good start and didn’t look back. Henré Koekemoer smashed 63 in double-quick time, while Ruan Cronjé added 47 and Corné Viljoen 42.

Saint George’s failed to mount a meaningful response as JD Bruwer knocked over 5 for 23 to help restrict them to 125 for 9. Having won by 66 runs, Saints booked a semi-final spot against Saint John’s College, who had topped the other pool.

Saint Andrew’s mustered a decent-looking 170 for 9, visiting the crease first, but lost too many players in the thirties who could have pushed on to bigger things.

In response, Saint John’s, well beaten when the teams met just two days previously, got off to a flyer. Their openers, Matthew Welch (83) and Greg Dollar (52) put on 145 for the first wicket in just shy of 15 overs and the result was all but decided by then. They went on to win by eight wickets. Victory in the final, though, went to Churchill.

Saint Andrew’s returned to Bloemfontein having played reasonably well, although somewhat inconsistently in their middle order, and had to quickly adjust to a different form of the game.

With Gerald Coetzee (SA u19), Garnett Tarr (Free State u19 Player of the Year) and Calvin Flanegan (Free State u17 Player of the Year) back in their ranks, Saints head to Cape Town for the Cape Schools Cricket Week where they will be in action against four very strong teams from Saturday, 29 September to Tuesday, 2 October.

They take on SACS at SACS on 29 September 2018, Paul Roos at the Distell Oval in Stellenbosch on 30 September, Rondebosch on 1 October at Rondebosch, and Wynberg on 2 October at Wynberg. The first three matches are declaration games and the last one is a 50 over clash.

On the photo above:

Seamer JD Bruwer captured 5 for 23 against Saint George’s College to see Saint Andrew’s into thesemi-finals of the Saint John’s College Rams T20 Festival in Harare.