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Back You are here: Home Sports Cricket Eastern Cape James Price! He's Not Cheap!
Monday, 11 October 2010 10:26

James Price! He's Not Cheap!

The small town of Grahamstown in the poverty stricken Eastern Cape will most certainly have something to write home about in the next couple of years. If everything goes according to plan they will be able to lay testament to nurturing and producing one of SouthJames_Batting_18_-_Copy Africa's up and coming young cricket sensations. To be more direct, the real credit will be given to St Andrew's College, one of South Africa's oldest educational institutions for they have developed James Price from the tender age of 5.

St Andrew's College has not witnessed a more complete all-round athlete since the 90's when Russell Bennett received his honours in three different sporting codes being rugby, athletics and cricket. Bennett went on to play for the Springboks on six different occasions and left his mark as one of the greatest all-round athletes to represent the school.

To put Bennett's accomplishments into perspective, to be awarded honours at the school you must represent your country at junior level. Only eight Andreans have received their honours in rugby over a history that spans 155 years. Not even current Springbok Ryan Kankowski was awarded his honours for rugby; you start to see the picture now that when comparisons of James Price are made with that of Russell Bennett you begin to realize that a special talent is beginning to emerge.

Price like Bennett is an exceptional athlete and is a lightning quick sprinter who has broken school records in the 100m that weren't broken for decades. Price's turn of pace and agility meant he was an exceptional rugby player, playing first team since Grade 10 and was well on track in reaching similar heights in the sport that Bennett achieved. His rugby career was cut short through injuries when he couldn't play in his matric year.

 

He has had many problems with his ligaments in his knee and had surgery in June this year. He decided instead of risking further damage to focus solely on his cricket. It has been discussed on many school sports forums that he would have walked into the South African schools rugby team this year had he been fit. Watching him play in 2009 where he single handedly beat Grey PE, scoring three tries in a one point nail biter I could not agree more.

Despite all the obvious similarities between the two, there is however one comparison that differs between Russell Bennett and James Price and that is their chosen career path. Whilst Bennett could have virtually gone down any road he wished he chose rugby. Price has opted for the gentlemen's game and it is a choice that will undoubtedly put smiles on the faces of cricket administrators throughout the country.

Price has always been on the path to cricket greatness - he has played first team cricket at St Andrew's since making his debut in Grade 8. He is a fast opening bowler who bats at number 3 in the limited over versions of the game and at 4 in the four-day format. His burst onto the high school scene was electrifying and he must have made many a mother worry when his bouncers went fizzing through close to the helmet.

Many people will recall a time when they watched an extraordinary school boy performance from a past or present great and knew at witnessing that performance that a great was being born. For anyone who watched Price in Grade 10 smash Grey PE all over St Andrew's beloved Lower field in a knock of 146 off 100 balls they knew they were in the presence of something special. Price has continued to excel for St Andrew's and on their recent tour to KwaZulu-Natal he  had an impressive year taking 29 wickets at an average of 14 and scoring 899 runs at an average of 64 including 3 hundreds. On tour he knocked up another hundred against Clifton and an innings of 92 against St Charles.

 

His contributions have meant that St Andrew's is enjoying one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. They had one glitch in their first season this year where they lost to Muir, a team they would be expected to beat. 'We declared a bit too early to try make a game out of it but all credit to Muir as they deserved to win' explains Price. They however made up for this glitch with impressive performances in beating Grey PE, Bishops and KES (a team that boasts 3 South African U19 players). 'Beating Grey was personally my best result as although it was not the biggest chase, under the circumstances we pulled through as a team. We needed 8 runs of the last over and it was a test of our team's character that we managed to come away with a win', adds Price.

St Andrew's also went down to the recent Sahara 20/20 tournament hosted by St David's where Price was included in the Sahara School's Team that faced the Sahara All Stars. Although he got dismissed without scoring from a beauty by Charl Langeveldt he managed to pick up two wickets to make a mark on the game. St Andrew's had a good tournament despite losing to Kearsney in their opening game by 15 runs they went on to win their next 3 games convincingly against Pretoria Boys, St Davids and St John's where Price contributed consistently throughout.

Apart from representing his school with distinction, Price has been a loyal servant to Eastern Province cricket since the age of 12 when he started playing provincial age-group cricket. His loyalty has been rewarded with a one year contract to the Warriors academy with the option of negotiating further after his first year. The Warriors are currently the top domestic side in the country and learning from the best will certainly help nurture his career. He has aspirations of going overseas for a few years and has already been approached from teams abroad but insists he is not looking to make it overseas but wants to rather try and make a success in South Africa.

 

Price has already started to make a name for himself in cricketing circles. He recently was selected for the national U19 side that toured Zimbabwe where he made some stellar performances that showed his true promise. In the fourth 50 over game he smashed his way to 135 in only 81 balls, a performance that spoke volumes of his attacking ability. In the two 20/20 games he continued his powerful form lambasting 81 off 43 balls and 98 off 54. It is clear that Price's strike rate is exceptional and he can take the match away from the opposition in a matter of overs, something that is invaluable in modern day cricket. Price has also learnt an abundance from the professionalism of U19 national coach Ray Jennings and that has helped him mature his game.

 

Price caught the attention of sponsors Slazenger who have provided him with his equipment for the last 3 years and he is truly grateful for the awesome bats they have provided and how they have treated him throughout his time with them. Price has also been lucky enough to have top coaches surrounding him as he has made his way to the top of school boy cricket. He has much admiration for his first team coach Scott Jackson who has really developed the side into a formidable unit. He however has developed a close relationship with former Eastern Province stalwart Carl Bradfield who is the director of cricket at St Andrew's College and Price's technical coach. 'He has an amazing feel for different characters and has kept me focused and pulled me up when I'm not feeling on top of my game. He has helped me a hell of a lot not just with cricket issues but with life in general and I have a great respect for the man' says Price.

Price also has a lot of respect for the first team players who supported him when entering the first team at such a young age. A circumstance that no doubt can be daunting to any young cricketer! Price speaks of how the guys kept on encouraging him and backed him all the way as they wanted him to succeed. That type of environment can really have a positive aspect on a young cricketer's game. He adds how you will never get anywhere if you are surrounded by negativity and the way he was introduced to the first side put him in good shape to become the player he has.

Price has his eyes set on making the Eastern Province U19 side which should be a formality and then he will try and secure a spot in the prestigious South African schools side that is selected at Coca-Cola week. Most importantly all Price wants to do is play cricket, something I no doubt we will be doing for many years to come at the highest level. St Andrew's have really unraveled a gem of a player in Price and like the great Bennett before him it might take another decade and a half before the school produces such a talent. Price will however be looking to overtake Bennett at one feat, and that is the amount of times he represents his country.

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