THE Mecer NMMU Madibaz cricket team will be hoping to crown a summer of success with the final cherry on the top when they compete in the National Club Championship in Pretoria, starting on Monday.
It will be their most difficult challenge of the season as they will go into a tournament where there is little room for errors.
With the 12 provincial winners divided into two sections of six each, one loss can prove deadly to a team’s chances because there are no semifinal playoffs. The top team in each section advance to the final.
It has been a golden summer for the Madibaz, with one of the significant achievements being to capture the University Sport SA cricket week title in Port Elizabeth in December.
That provided the platform for them to continue their success in the PE leagues as they went on to claim their fifth Super League title in a row and their fourth straight Twenty20 league crown.
NMMU cricket official Riaan Osman said they had a well-balanced side, but would be prepared for anything at next week’s event.
“There are so many factors you have to take into account and you are never quite sure of the make-up of the other teams,” Osman said. “But we have a promising young fast bowling attack and we have [Warriors offspinner] Simon Harmer available, and his experience will be a major plus.
“Corbyn Dolley has also done very well this season and we always back ourselves, but you have to be very careful in this week because one loss can hurt your chances.”
The Madibaz open their campaign against NWU Pukke on Monday and follow that with fixtures against Good Hope, Benoni Northerns, St Patricks College and Free State University.
The varsity teams always throw up great rivalries, while many amateur players from the provinces will be available, boosting the opposing teams.
Nonetheless, NMMU will start as one of the favourites and if they can repeat the form at the Ussa Week, when they emerged triumphant in some tight situations, they will be tough to beat.
The sections are:
Section one: NMMU, NWU Pukke, Free State University, Good Hope (Border), St Patricks College (Griquas), Benoni Northerns.
Section two: Old Eds (Gauteng), Pretoria University, Union Stars (SWD), Stellenbosch University, WP Cricket Club, Crusaders (KZN).