NMMU will be looking for a strong start to the Momentum National Club Cricket Championship tournament when they take on Free State University in their opening fixture in Pretoria today.
Even though the Madibaz are in the opposite section to champions Pretoria University, they will quickly need to find their best form if they hope to contest Monday’s final.
Teams such as Free State University and the University of Johannesburg are potentially tricky opponents, while Durban outfit Crusaders will also fancy their chances.
For the first time, two NMMU teams will compete in the national event after NMMU George won the South Western Districts premier league.
They have been included in the Tuks’ section and it will be an interesting challenge for them. They will face other tough opposition in the University of Stellenbosch and Cape Town Cricket Club.
The PE team will be looking to players such as David White, Simon Harmer and Sisanda Magala to boost their chances. All three have extensive franchise and provincial experience, and if there is quality support from their team- mates, the Madibaz could have a significant impact on the week.
A winning start against the Free Staters today could set them up for a charge for the final. They also know that one slip could be the death knell for their chances.
Tuks, meanwhile, will be bidding for a notable hat-trick of titles when they open their week against Kempton Park today.
Momentum will again be putting up a prize pool of R80000, with the winning club receiving R50000, and R20000 going to the runners-up.
“The Momentum National Club Championship gives ideal context to one of our most important domestic competitions and also provides an appropriate high point to the club season,” Cricket SA chief executive Haroon Lorgat said.
“A glance at the performances over the last two seasons shows that it has produced players who have gone on to represent their franchises, such as Francois le Clus, Simon Harmer, Tumi Masekela, Graeme van Buuren and Rassie van der Dussen, to name just a few.
“This advancement proves club cricket remains a very important part of our talent pipeline, which starts from KFC Mini-Cricket and goes all the way through to being selected for the Proteas.”
The matches will be played in various venues around Pretoria.
The competing teams are:
Section 1: Crusaders (KZN), NMMU PE (EP), NWU Pukke (North West), University of Free State (Free State), University of Johannesburg (Gauteng), West End (Griquas).
Section 2: Cape Town (WP), Kempton Park (Easterns), NMMU George (SWD), Tuks (Northerns), United (Border), University of Stellenbosch (Boland).
The fixtures for the NMMU teams are:
Section 1: NMMU PE v University of Free State, NWU Pukke v NMMU PE, Crusaders v NMMU PE, West End v NMMU PE, NMMU PE v University of Johannesburg.
Section 2: NMMU George v Cape Town CC, NMMU George v University of Stellenbosch, Kempton Park v NMMU George, United v NMMU George, Tuks v NMMU George. – Neale Emslie