As preparations begin for the coming season, I feel the time is right to share my experiences of the 12 months that I have been Head Coach of the UWC Cricket Club.I met with the players for the first time last August and shared with them my coaching principles.
I stressed that there was a need for everyone to work hard and show a collective desire if we were to achieve our goals of playing hard cricket while respecting the opposition.
The players were already working hard on a physical fitness programme that was put together by our biokinetics team, which prepared the players very well for the coming season, as well as promoting team spirit and bonding the group together.
Two pre-season tours were arranged to Bloemfontein and up the west coast, which gave the players the opportunity to spend important time in the middle with both bat and ball and also get ‘time’ in the field. Both tours were very successful not only in allowing individuals perform but to assess how the players behaved in a close team environment.
The first decision that had to be made by the players was to select the captain of the club for the season. Robert Van Der Ross was re-elected and proved to be a good tactical and compassionate leader as the season progressed.
The first competition was the T/20 where we were beaten by United in the semi-final. It was a close game in which we chased the target well but lost wickets and let the run rate climb out of control.
However the competition showed me the qualities the team possessed and I was confident that we would be competitive in the one day and two day competitions that were ahead of us.
At the Christmas break the first, second and third teams were well placed in all competitions. As the season progressed I was very pleased to see that the results were reflecting the hard work and preparation that was taking place during the week.
Players enjoyed the intensity of the practice sessions where all areas of their games were challenged; their fitness, their fielding and their technical skills. All the players and support staff bought into our practice theme: ‘Practice is a rehearsal of performance’
At the end of the academic year we travelled to Pretoria for the Annual University Championship. UWC travelled with an inexperienced squad and knew we were in for a challenging week.
After playing some poor cricket early in the week it was pleasing to finish fifth and we look forward to next season’s competition to be held in Port Elizabeth, where the wickets will play as they do in Cape Town and the players should have benefited from the experience of last year’s competition. It was very pleasing, however, to have both Lawrence and Behardien selected in the National Universities Team.
At the start of the New Year all players were exposed to a demanding fitness and skills program to ensure we hit the ground running when the season commenced.
All three teams played some excellent cricket in the New Year and with one game remaining all needed to win their final game to win their respective leagues. During an intriguing last day of the season all managed to accomplish that to complete an outstanding hat-trick of titles.
Three weeks later we played the Western Province Cricket Club at Newlands in the one day final, UWC won the one day cup after showing composure when chasing down the total.
The first team were now both two and one Champions and due to winning the two-day competition qualified to compete in the National Club Championships in Pretoria.
After losing the first game we played some excellent cricket and won three matches. In my opinion this week will prove hugely beneficial in the growth of the team as well as individuals as we look forward to repeating the club’s success next season.
I would like to put on record that none of the club’s success would have been possible if the players had not bought into the culture of hard work and no short cuts in preparation. Well done the UDUBs!!
Behind any winning team there has to be a strong support staff. To all the coaches and management, well done it was a pleasure to work with you.
However we must all raise our game to ensure we continue to reach our goals.Finally, I thank everyone involved in the Sports Skills for Life Skills programme, not only for the privilege of working with you, but for re-igniting my love for the game.