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IN 1993 the schools’ night league was started with the then Natal Witness and Maritzburg Old Boy’s (MOB) cricket club combining to host the first competition. It was the idea of Ted Swinden, the then president of the MOB cricket club.
Maritzburg College, Hilton and Michaelhouse have been involved in all 18 years which the competition has been held. Other schools, Kearsney, St Charles, DHS, Westville, Glenwood and Northwood have also participated over the years, as has a composite side chosen from players in the second tier of school’s cricket.
The format has not always been the same and this year it was decided just to have five sides involved. It was decided that the four large boy’s schools from the midlands and a composite side would participate. It was hoped that a bigger crowd would be attracted to each game. However, with schools sometimes playing two matches in a week this did not happen.
At the end of the round-robin stage both Hilton and College had won three games and lost one. Hilton lost against Michaelhouse and College lost against Hilton. They both gained two bonus points and ended on 14 points each. Michalhouse also lost just one game, which was against College, but as they were rained off against the President’s XI, they had to share the points, which knocked them out of contention.
The final was rain-affected and as a result in the third year, sponsored by Sunfoil, the trophy was shared by the finalists Maritzburg College and Hilton. This is only the second time that the trophy has been shared, the last time being in 2005 when College and St Charles shared the trophy also because of the final being rain-affected. Tom Curran from Hilton was named the Batsman of the Series and Sohail Mahmoud from College, the Bowler of the Series.
In 2008 there was no competition as there was an international cycling event being held in Alexandra Park. In 2009 rain prevented all matches from being played. College has played in 16 of the 18 finals and won the trophy 11 times. Hilton has played in seven finals winning it three times. Michaelhouse and Kearsney have each won twice and Durban High School and St Charles once each. Both Hilton Cairns, the national marketing manager of the Willowton group and Yunus Bhamjee, the president of KZN Inland cricket, reiterated that this competition enhances the progress of schoolboy cricket in the region. Cairns said that “the Willowton’s group philosophy is to encourage the youth to become involved in a sport that focuses on teamwork and good values and hence they chose to sponsor cricket”.
The Sunfoil sponsorship, which began with the school’s night series three years ago, has grown to include the Dolphins this season and the Proteas in the series against Australia and Sri Lanka. Bhamjee said that the aim of the Sunfoil Schools’ Night League is to market cricket talent in the Pietermaritzburg region and help in identifying the talent that will represent the provincial school’s team. “The main thrust and objective of our programme is to make cricket the sport of choice among the youth in our province,” said Bhamjee.