On Tuesday the 8th of January, Groot Drak played host to Oxford University’s first XI at Pickstone Oval. Rightly anticipating a tough contest, the home team selected a particularly formidable side to take on the young and fit students.
Honouring tradition, the visitors were sent in to bat and Oxford immediately made the significant age gap count by putting on a first wicket partnership of 83 runs, followed by a century from one of their openers.
If not for a middle-order collapse, Oxford would have comfortably posted a score of 270+ in their 40 overs, but the Groot Drak bowling-and-fielding effort limited the visitors to 227/5.
Particularly impressive spells from Andri le Roux (32/2 from 8), Martin van der Merwe (33/1 from 8) and Danie van der Nest (40/2 from 7) were instrumental in the resultant target.
After a quick lunch break, Groot Drak headed out to attempt the run chase. A shaky start saw the local boys 63/3 before the innings was stabilized by Martin van der Merwe (41 from 55) and Craig McNaught (48 from 61). A few quick wickets saw Groot Drak in trouble – but, batting all the way to number 11, there was still a chance of victory for the home side.
Great starts from Jannes Mouton (18 from 13), Kudu Kotze (23 from 23) and Corrie Brand (21* from 29) took the game down to the wire… needing one run for victory from the last ball of the match, some efficient fielding from Oxford saw a run out and the game being tied!
The shared result was soon forgotten over a customary beer on the pitch and a brief history of the club shared with the visitors, courtesy of Richard von Hoesslin.
A brief fines meeting warmed both teams up for what would be a fantastic dinner and bonding experience between, what we hope will be, two teams that begin a tradition of regular fixtures in the future.
It was a wonderful opportunity to host such a fantastic bunch of cricketers, who, along with Groot Drak, enjoyed each aspect of the day, both on and off the pitch!
Match report by Craig McNaught