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Back You are here: Home Sports Cricket Kwa Zulu Natal Cricket: Profile on St Charles College Coach Dave Karlsen
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 09:07

Cricket: Profile on St Charles College Coach Dave Karlsen

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Dave Karlsen is as much a fixture at St Charles College as is the school’s magnificent St Charles Cricket Oval.

Although you might correctly argue that 14 years is, relatively speaking, not a very long time for a teacher to be at a school, it is the impact that “Karly” has made on cricket at the Pietermaritzburg educational institution that will forever be etched in the annals of this fine school.

Karlsen was originally the director of sport, but requested a move into the academic side of the school and while he is still Master in Charge of cricket and football, he is now also teaching history.

“The school’s ambition has always been to be able to compete favourably in the upper levels of South African schools’ cricket,” says the first XI coach. “We have only three matrics in the team this year, which bodes well for 2014.

“One of our two most senior players is Andy Darroch who is captaining the side - he is a genuine all-rounder of very high quality. Andy is a right-arm opening bowler and an upper middle-order bat who has played for the KZN Inland U17 side as well as being selected earlier this year for the KZN Inland U19 three-day team. The other is Ben Philpott, who is an opening bat and wicketkeeper of genuine quality who has impressed many with his ability with the gloves. Ben was selected for the Dolphins Cubs in January this year, as well as the KZN Inland U19 and U17 teams.”

‘Oppenheimer Week encapsulates all that is excellent about SA schoolboy cricket.’

Karlsen says that St Charles have a number of younger players with plenty of talent coming through. “Kylan Naidoo has just played for the KZN Inland senior side against KZN Coastal and thanks to the generous spirit of the Inland coach, Grant Morgan, gained some wonderful experience. Ben earned his spot with a four-wicket haul against the senior side.” 

‘Cricket is about people and getting them to perform to the best level that they can be.’

St Charles, who played in Maritzburg College’s Oppenheimer Week over the school holidays – which formed part of College’s 150th anniversary year – is an annual event that Karlsen holds close to his heart. “We have been attending Oppenheimer Week over the Michaelmas holidays since 2001. The Oppenheimer Week encapsulates all that is excellent about SA schoolboy cricket. The level of competition is of the very best worldwide and the game is played in the toughest way possible. Expectations are high and are demanded by schools participating. For me it is the zenith of a long journey of hard work and sacrifice by matric pupils, as many schools ‘retire’ their matrics after Oppenheimer Week and start afresh. In the major context, it is another of many major opportunities for players to display their talent and to test it against teams of similar ambition and determination. Personally, it is a meeting of old friends sharing a similar vision of benefit to the boys. No matter the frustrations and the lack of thanks that comes with the task, it embodies the lofty ideals of the real educator.”

‘I think that schools cricket is still an integral part of educating boys’

Would Karlsen like to see a proper KZN Schools’ U18 League for the top-tier schools – like Northwood, St Charles, Glenwood, Kearsney, Maritzburg College, Michaelhouse, DHS and Hilton, to name some – and possible promotion/relegation for the second-tier league winners against the bottom side in the top tier? Would this promote even more interest and be attractive to sponsors – raising the sport’s profile at KZN school level – where rugby is still very dominant?

“No. I think that schools cricket is still an integral part of educating boys to cope with the very difficult challenges the game poses - and its successes and disappointments are tough enough without schools losing sight of why we do what we do. It is the duty of schools and school masters to protect the boys from an ever-encroaching corporate world where ethics and morality have become a distinct shade of grey.”

‘Basics are very important, as is the ability to adapt to the conditions quickly.’

What school first XIs in South Africa does Karlsen feel have consistently drawn his admiration? “Grey College, St Albans, DHS, Affies, Michaelhouse and Rondebosch - although they play hard, uncompromising cricket, they have a deep respect for the game and what it stands for.”

What style or brand of cricket does Karlsen try and get his team to play? “Basics are very important, as is the ability to adapt to the conditions quickly. Our style would be determined by the format and the conditions, but we would always play for a result - hopefully in our favour! Winning is very important. It is the major reason for playing.”

And what victory so far this year gave Karlsen the greatest satisfaction. “Beating Maritzburg College on Goldstones because it is a school for which I have immense admiration - and it was against my mate, Mike Bechet, who I regard as being up there with the greatest schoolboy coaches I have encountered in the world of education.”

What are the challenges that lie ahead in terms of your goals for St Charles cricket in the future? “To make the sport even more appealing as it competes with its less time consuming competitors. To engender a sense of fun and excitement to the lower teams by affording them more game time and competition. Hopefully this will help get the bug to bite! To widen the base, so that the top will grow. For the gifted players, an opportunity to play better levels of cricket throughout the country - and to showcase their talents nationwide.”

‘Oppenheimer Week embodies the lofty ideals of the real educator.’

Karlsen played Premier League cricket, while he has coached the Natal Schools U19 side at Coke Week, the KZN Inland side at Coke Week, and the National U17 Week. He has a Cricket South Africa Level 2 coaching qualification. “But coaching for me is mainly about practical knowledge. I have been blessed to spend time with the late Eddie Barlow, Peter Carlstein and Ashley Mallet at the Shell Academy. I am ambivalent about coaching qualifications - they may give one important knowledge, but coaching is about man management and not being scared of making tough decisions when needed. Cricket is about people and getting them to perform to the best level that they can be.”

What attracted Karlsen to coaching and what satisfaction does it give him? “I have always loved trying to help influence people in becoming the best they can be; it is that innate knowledge that you are in a profession that is designed to help make the world a better place - and that sport is just one of the tools we as educationists use.”

Dave Karlsen – a man amongst men who still has so much to offer St Charles and South African cricket.