With the University Sport South Africa cricket tournament being held for the first time since 2014, there is an air of excitement in the Nelson Mandela University squad for next week’s competition in Pretoria.
Having been moved to the start of the season, Madibaz captain Lloyd Brown said they were delighted to have another chance to compete in the 50-overs format at this level.
“A number of our players have not yet been to a USSA week, so this will be a new experience for them,” he said.
“In addition, we missed out on the national club champs this year, so we are looking forward to this opportunity because traditionally we have done well at the 50-overs format.”
He added that, even at this stage of the season, their preparations had gone well.
“After playing eight competitive matches, it definitely doesn’t seem like pre-season anymore,” said Brown.
“We have just come back from a trip to play Kovsies (Free State University) where it was good to get some experience of the conditions we will face in Pretoria.”
He said the format of the tournament, with two pools of four teams, would pile on the pressure from the start.
“You have to hit the ground running to try to win at least two of the three matches to make the semifinals. We have some hard games against Kovsies, University of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch.”
With the introduction of Varsity Cricket, Brown said the game had improved at many varsities and the pool of favourites had grown much bigger.
“Nowadays you are getting at least five or six varsities who are very strong and it will boil down to who plays best on the day.”