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Back You are here: Home Sports Cricket Gauteng Cricket: Trend Setting Waterkloof - Leading the Way
Monday, 30 September 2013 12:44

Cricket: Trend Setting Waterkloof - Leading the Way

Written by  Jaco Zeeman

Waterkloof is undisputedly regarded as one of the powerhouses on the school boy cricket circuit. Superb performances in the highly competitive Pretoria league, strong showings at the annual National T20 competition and the recent production line of first class and national cricketers, suggests that they have firmly entrenched themselves as one of the top cricket schools in the country. With Director of Cricket, Neels De Villiers at the helm and the Waterkloof cricket academy in great shape, all the workings are in place to cement the school at the top for many years to come.

 

It is generally well established schools, with longstanding traditions and reputations that yield continuous cricket success. Waterkloof however seems to be an exception in this regard. A school that is still in its infancy, regarding age and establishment, they are indeed punching above their weight in the cricket arena. In its 34 years, 18 have been spent competing in the A-league in Pretoria with an U14, U15 and first team. They boast strength in depth, fielding 14 teams on a weekly basis. As if all of this is not enough, they run a cricket academy within the school that operates during the school program which allows players to dedicate more time to their cricket, consequently giving them a better chance of making it as cricketers one day. Waterkloof offers cricket as a subject at school, which means aspiring cricketers and non-cricketers have the opportunity to engage academically as intellectuals with the game.

Kloofies, as they are better known in Pretoria, is thus in pole position to obtain sustained cricketing success. Besides having the above mentioned cricket academy with world class facilities and resources, the coaching setup is also in very good hands with the very capable Neels De Villiers. Neels is a cricket man through and through. His playing career contains some remarkable achievements. The top order wicket keeper batsman, brother of former South African fast bowler Fanie De Villiers, played his school cricket in the Vaal Triangle (U15, U17 and U19). As a student at Potch he played in the Junior Board and Western Transvaal B side. As a young teacher, he then proceeded to play for Far North Districts and premier league club cricket at Alberton and Goudstad. In his spare time, Neels enjoys a game of golf, squash and values spending quality time with his family.

Neels has also been the Kloofies first team coach for 15 years and is ably assisted by his assistant coach Johan Muller. Johan does all the pre-season planning and game strategy, as well as physical management of the players. Neels has an exemplary coaching CV and is a Cricket South Africa coaching level 3 recipient, which is held in high regard by his peers. The 52-year-old Waterkloof man has also been involved in coaching various provincial teams over the last 27 years, including Gauteng, West Rand, Limpopo and Gauteng North. When asked to recall some of his most memorable coaching achievements he responded by saying: “Winning the North Vaal trophy for two years and winning the National T20 tournament in 2011.”

Neels has played an integral part of cricket at the school. He has created a structure for the coaching staff and attended to matters such as discipline and cricket etiquette. His influence penetrates into many aspects of the game and it is not an unfamiliar sight to see Neels himself running the warm ups. He takes charge of organising tours for all the cricketers, which he believes has contributed to the success of all fourteen teams at Hoërskool Waterkloof. Some well-known Waterkloof Old Boys that have benefitted from Neels and the systems in place at the school, include feisty Proteas’ spinner Roelof van der Merwe and the Titans’ trio of Pieter Malan, Cobus Pienaar and Eden Links. Recent Lions’ acquisition and fiery quick Hardus Viljoen is also a former Kloof cricketer, while André Malan, Christiaan Schoeman and Juandré Jumat are all plying their trade in the Titans amateur set-up.

wk1Provincial cricket representation at Waterkloof is found in abundance. Some of the players who represent Gauteng North include Danie Rossouw, Janneman Malan, Henco Vorstman, Michael Strauss, Willie Ludick, Divan Bester, Rubin Hermann. Neels believes that most of his current crop of players has the ability to make it as professional cricketers. He proceeds to say: “It all depends on if they are willing to work hard and creating and using their opportunities.”

According to Neels, the younger brother of Titans’ duo Pieter and André Malan, namely Janneman, is a player to watch out for in the future. The three centuries he made in the build-up towards the National T20 schools and a “Man of the Match” fifty, against Framesby at the tournament epitomises the ability that this boy has. One of these hundreds included a spectacular knock against Affies in the semifinal in the Gauteng North leg of the competition. The aggressive shot-making opening batsman is only U17 this year and big things are expected from this prodigious talent.

The 2013 season has been a phenomenal one for the first team thus far. Having played 24 games, winning 22, losing 2 and tying 1, the side finds themselves in the top five school cricket teams in the country for the calendar year. This Waterkloof side has already defeated some big scalps this season that has led Coach Neels to describe the incumbent side as “well-disciplined and gutsy”. A major victory over rival school AHS (Affies) in the North Gauteng T20 semifinal and beating KES in their annual 50 over friendly fixture have definitely been highlights of the season thus far. The win over Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen in the Titans final at Super Sport Park was unquestionably the cherry on the cake.

Waterkloof boast a formidable record in the National T20 Schools cricket competition. They were crowned the Titans champions and represented the franchise at theT20 week which was held in Stellebosch in February. In the national week they played group and cross group fixtures against Framesby, Westville, St Andrews and St Stithians and advanced to the final. The final was played at a picture perfect Newlands against a very talented Rondebosch side. Although Waterkloof restricted Rondebosch to an achievable total of 112 with some good bowling and fielding they could not avoid defeat in the end.

Future aspirations for Waterkloof cricket as a whole is to maintain and improve the cricket academy at the school. Goals for the Waterkloof 1st XI include being competitive in the Pretoria league, making their beloved André van der Walt Oval a fortress and if opportunities such as the National T20 tournament arise, accepting and embracing the challenge. Neels believes this is imperative to prolonged cricketing success at the school.

There is no doubting the fact that Waterkloof has emerged as a potential leader of the school boy cricket pack. All the mechanisms are in place to achieve this. A healthy intake of quality cricketers, clear future goals, a flourishing cricket academy and extremely capable hands in charge of it all, puts Waterkloof in a strong position to obtain the sought-after status of being the best cricket school in the country for many years to come.

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