Michaelmas Cricket Week Origin and Developments

Mon, 02/09/2013 - 12:52

The Michaelmas Cricket Week has been a feature of the South African cricket season for 54 years. There have been other school cricket festivals; one was held in Grahamstown as far back as 1898, and an inter-schools week was held in Durban in 1925, in which four Natal and four Transvaal schools took part.

There was, of course, the Offord Cricket Week in Natal, which was played annually from December 1932 until December 1993 under the auspices of the Natal Cricket Association. In 1994 the Offord Week format changed quite radically in that all teams participating were composite sides drawn from regions around Natal and the former independent school team players were selected for one or more of these teams.

Other provinces have imitated the Offord Week concept and in recent years several 'invitation' festivals, such as the Michaelmas Week have been established, some even in other sports such as the Ascension Hockey Festival and various Rugby Festivals.

However, the Michaelmas Invitation Week is the oldest 'private' festival cricket week. It has been held annually since 1959 (except in 1970) and the 2013 Week will be the fifty-fourth.  Maritzburg College also celebrates its 150th Anniversary this year.

The first Week was held from September 28th to October 1st in 1959. The late Mr LCW Theobald, who was Master-in-Charge of Cricket at DHS from 1949 to 1967 and the late Mr RM Chambers of Maritzburg College were jointly responsible for the foundation of the Week and its organisation for the first six years. At first, four schools took part; the two host schools with KES and Jeppe. The schools played each other on the first three days and on the last day matches were played against DJ McGlew's XI, the Penguins CC (from Port Elizabeth), Richmond CC and Wartburg CC.

In the first four weeks the schools played against Men's Country Districts XI's from the Natal Midlands areas of Eston, Howick, Greytown, Wartburg, Richmond, and Nelsrust. Furthermore in 1960 and 1961, DHS and Maritzburg College joined forces and fielded two combined teams under the two school captains, i.e. Clarkson's XI and Sharratt's XI and in 1960 these teams even played each other. At the same time St John's joined the Week in 1960 and a combined Transvaal Schools team played against Maritzburg College and DHS in 1962.  It was not until 1963 that the Week became an entirely schools' affair, with six teams, including Michaelhouse, Combined Midlands Schools, KES and Pretoria Boys High School. In 1964, the schools invited were Kearsney, Combined Midlands, Queen's College and KES.

In 1965 the Week assumed the format which was to remain unchanged until 1980, i.e. ten teams, five from Natal playing against five from other provinces. The five Natal Schools remained virtually constant since Glenwood replaced Kearsney in 1967. As for the others, invitations have been extended to a number of regular visitors. In 1980, the total number of teams was increased to twelve, six 'local' and six from 'abroad'. This year 18 sides will again celebrate Michaelmas Cricket Week, a far cry from 1959 when only four schools were involved. 

The following schools have participated in Michaelmas Week at one time or another:


Maritzburg College (53 Weeks), Durban High School (52), Glenwood High School (43), Hilton College (43), Michaelhouse (40), Kearsney College (20), Westville Boys' High School (17), Alexandra High School (14), St Charles College (11), Natal Development XI (6), KwaZulu-Natal Development XI (3), Northwood School (1), Clifton School (1), Northlands Boys High School (1), Combined Midlands Schools (1).


King Edward VII School (KES) (48 Weeks), Pretoria Boys High School (PBHS) (46), Grey College (25), Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) (21), St Stithians College (15), St John's College (14), Parktown Boys' High School (10), Hudson Park High School (5), St Alban's College (4), St David's Marist Inanda (3), St Andrew's College (Grahamstown) (2), Potchefstroom Boys' High School, Jeppe High School for Boys, Queen's College, Bishops Diocesan College, Rondebosch Boys' High School, Graeme College High School for Boys, South African College High School (SACS), Dale College, Grey High School, Woodridge College, the Gauteng Cricket Board Youth XI, the Eastern Province Development XI, St Andrew's  School (Bloemfontein), Hoërskool Waterkloof, the Lowveld Invitation XI and Griquas' Development XI.


The King's School and The Scots College (Sydney, Australia); an Indian XI (New Delhi), Palmerston North Boys' High School (1) and Westlake Boys High School (2) (both New Zealand).

The following are some of the international and franchise (previously provincial) cricketers who, at one time or another, represented their schools at Michaelmas Cricket Week.

Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies)

International:         Jacques Rudolph, AB de Villiers, Francois du Plessis, Heino Kuhn, Neil Wagner (New Zealand), Kruger van Wyk (New Zealand)

Franchise:             SA Englebrecht (Cape Cobras), Heinrich le Roux (Lions), Eden Links (Titans), Francois le Clus (Titans), Rassie van der Dussen (Lions)

Dale College

International:         Makhaya Ntini

Durban High School (DHS)

International:         Lee Irvine, Barry Richards, Richard Snell, Lance Klusener, Jon Kent, Imraan Khan, Tyron Henderson, Hashim Amla

Franchise:             Chad Keegan (Middlesex, Sussex), Jonathan Vandiar (Dolphins, Lions), Robbie MacQueen (Natal), Wade Wingfield (Natal), Kurt Donaldson (Natal), Shaun Adam (Natal)

Eastern Province Development

Franchise:             Nigel Brouers (Eastern Province, Northerns)

Gauteng Development XI

International:         Andrew Hall

Franchise:             The late Walter Masemola (Lions), Geoffrey Toyana (Dolphins, Kent, Worcestershire)

Glenwood High School

International:         Steven Jack

Franchise:             Cody Chetty (Dolphins), Prenelan Subrayen (Dolphins), Mthokozisi Shezi (Dolphins)

Grey College

International:         Kepler Wessels (Australia, South Africa), Boeta Dippenaar, Victor Mpitsang, Morne van Wyk, the late Hansie Cronje, Corrie van Zyl, Nicky Boje, Ryan McLaren

Franchise:             Jonathan Beukes (Eagles), Frans Cronje (Free State), CJ de Villiers (Eagles, Titans), Cliffie Deacon (Eagles, Lions), Lloyd Griessel (Free State, Transvaal), Deon Jordaan (Free State, Northerns, Western Province), Philip Radley (Free State), Rilee Roussow (Eagles), Joubert Strydom (Northern Transvaal, Free State, Transvaal), Willem van der Merwe (Free State, Western Province), Kosie Venter (Free State), Andre Volsteedt (Free State), Louis Wilkinson (Free State), Divan van Wyk (Dolphins, Eagles), Obus Pienaar (Knights)

Grey High School

International:         Dave Callaghan

Hilton College

International:         Derek Crookes

Franchise:             Sven Koenig (Middlesex, Western Province), James Schorn (Free State),Russel Symcox (Dolphins), Rowan Varner (Natal)

Hudson Park High School

Franchise:             Ayabulela Gqamane (Warriors)

Kearsney College

International:         Andrew Hudson, Kyle Abbott

Franchise:             Andrew Gait (Derbyshire, Free State), Benji Hector (Cape Cobras, Eagles), Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire, Natal), Andrew Tweedie (Dolphins), Craig Kirsten (Dolphins)


King Edward VII School

International:         Ali Bacher, Kevin McKenzie, Ray Jennings, Lee Barnard, Hugh Page, Adam Bacher, Nic Pothas, Graham Smith, Neil McKenzie, Vaughn van Jaarsveld

Franchise:             Stephen Cook (Lions), Dylan Jennings (Easterns, Gauteng), Warren Dugmore (Lions), Matthew Harris (Lions), Blake Snijman (Lions, Titans), Quinton de Kock (Lions), Dane Vilas (Cape Cobras, Lions), Tich Smith (Natal)


KwaZulu-Natal Development XI

Franchise:             Ahmed Amla (Dolphins), Ashraf Mall (Dolphins)

Maritzburg College

International:         Jonty Rhodes, Tim Shaw, Dave Miller, Kevin Pietersen (England), John Anderson (Ireland)

Franchise:             Ross Veenstra (Eastern Province, Natal, Transvaal), Clive Wulfson (Eastern Province, Natal), Greg Walsh (Natal), Mike Woodburn (Natal), Keith Forde (Natal), Morné van Vuuren (Dolphins), Udo Goedeke (Natal), David Pryke (Natal), Clinton Rhodes (Eastern Province, Natal), John Anderson (Dolphins), Jon Buxton-Forman (Natal), Ant Botha (Derbyshire, Natal, Warwickshire), Mark Bruyns (Border, Natal), Mark Handman (Natal), James Bryant (Derbyshire, Eastern Province, Somerset), Tim Groenewald (Derbyshire, Warwickshire, Dolphins), Grant Rowley (Dolphins), Doug Watson (Dolphins), Calvin Savage (Dolphins), Gareth Roderick (Gloucestershire)


International:         Dale Benkenstein

Franchise:             Lloyd Ferreira (Boland, Dorset, Western Province), Craig Sugden (Border, KwaZulu-Natal, Natal), Mark van Heerden (Boland)

Northlands Boys High School

International:         Chris Smith (England), Shaun Pollock (South Africa)

Palmerston North (New Zealand)

International:         Ross Taylor (New Zealand)

Pretoria Boys HighPretoria Boys High School (PBHS)

International:         Christopher Morris

Franchise:             Maurice Aronstam (Titans), Simon Harmer (Warriors), Johann Myburgh (Auckland, Canterbury, Durham, Hampshire, Titans),  Greg Smith (Derbyshire, Essex, Northern Transvaal), Graeme van Buuren (Titans)

Queen's College

International:         Tony Greig (England)

Shell Academy

Franchise:             Rivash Gobind (Dolphins)

St Alban's College

Franchise:             Gerald Dros (Titans), Deon Kruis (Eagles, Yorkshire)

St Charles College

Franchise:             Bradley Moses (Dolphins, Eagles), Glen Addicott (Dolphins), Matt Hulett (Dolphins)

St John's College

Franchise:             Jean Symes (Lions)

St StithiansSt Stithians College

International:         Dave Rundle, Roy Pienaar, David Terbrugge, Michael Lumb (England), Grant Elliott (New Zealand)

Franchise:             Mark Benfield (Eastern Province, Gauteng, Transvaal), Liam Graham (Border)

Westville Boys' High School

Franchise:             Martin Bekker (Dolphins), Duncan Brown (Dolphins), Robbie Frylinck (Dolphins, Lions), Khaya Zondo (Dolphins), Cameron Delport (Dolphins), Westville

Westlake Boys High School

Franchise:             Bradley Cachopa (Auckland), James Fuller (Gloucestershire, Otago)

How time flies...the sons of some of the above men have now begun appearing in Team Lists for the Week!

Graham Ford and Dave Orchard, both from Maritzburg College, have also achieved in the coaching and umpiring spheres of the game at the highest level.  Corrie van Zyl of Grey College has coached the Proteas, as has Ray Jennings (KES). Lance Klusener (DHS) has coached the Dolphins.

In the early years, the visiting teams stayed in local hotels but later accommodation for all was made available at Maritzburg College. It is a wish of this cricket week to try and have all teams residing in one of the Boarding Establishments – we have all gathered to play cricket, renew friendships and make new acquaintances.

As may be expected, costs have risen enormously over the years. Visiting teams in particular, have had to bear increasingly heavy transport costs.  Towards the end of the seventies, the future of the Week, as we know it, was in some jeopardy owing to the increased financial burden.  It was in 1979 that Metropolitan Homes Trust in Pietermaritzburg came forward with the money to ensure that the Week could proceed without undue financial hardship to the players involved. That company sponsored six Michaelmas Weeks and we are very grateful for its generosity and friendliness over that period. 

When, early in 1984, Metropolitan Homes Trust found that it could no longer find the money to continue the sponsorship, the future of the Week again became a matter of grave concern. It was then that First National Bank agreed to take over the sponsorship. In 1985, the first First National Bank Michaelmas Invitation Cricket Week was held at Maritzburg College and, at the sponsor's request, the Week moved to Johannesburg and King Edward VII School for the only time in 1987. This was probably fortuitous as Pietermaritzburg had some of its worst floods in living memory. In 1988 the Week moved back to Pietermaritzburg and this coincided with the 125th Anniversary of Maritzburg College. All in all, First National sponsored ten Michaelmas Weeks for which the organizers will be eternally grateful.  The role played by the late Mr Ian Dixon and the late Jackie McGlew in securing the sponsorship for as long as it was maintained, must be acknowledged. 

The catering firm Kagiso Khulani Supervision Food Services took over the sponsorship of the Week during their six year tenure as school caterers. Mandate Meal Management (Pty) Ltd, who were school caterers in 2001 and 2002, sponsored the Week during those years.  In 2003 the sponsors were Jackson's Sports and Gunn and Moore.

Mr Jonathan Oppenheimer is sponsoring the Week again this year, as he has done since 2004. This enables us to keep the costs to the players down to a reasonable level. We are indebted to Mr Oppenheimer for his continued interest in schoolboy cricket.

Our current school caterer, Heather Lawson of Granny Mac's, has very generously offered to sponsor the Managers' Dinner again this year.  Heather is a great friend of Maritzburg College and we appreciate her gesture enormously.

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