WBHS adapt well to spin and cli­mate for suc­cess­ful Sri Lankan tour

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

THE Wyn­berg Boys’ High School 1st XI cricket team re­turned last week from an ex­hil­a­rat­ing and ul­ti­mately suc­cess­ful 15- day, nine-match tour of Sri Lanka.

The trip marked the school’s fifth in­ter­na­tional cricket tour and fol­lowed pre­vi­ous vis­its to Bar­ba­dos, Pak­istan and Eng­land.

Coach Eric Lef­son and his 15man squad made the bustling coastal re­sort of Hikkaduwa, their home base. The side, made up in age from 14 to 18, faced stiff com­pe­ti­tion from some of the is­land na­tion’s top-ranked schools and cricket academies.

“The boys faced other chal­lenges, in­clud­ing cop­ing with sti­fling heat and hu­mid­ity and bat­tling the ubiq­ui­tous stom­ach ail­ments syn­ony­mous with tour­ing the sub-con­ti­nent,” said Shaun Hewett, mas­ter-in-charge of cricket at Wyn­berg. “Ini­tial re­sults were dis­ap­point­ing: a rusty Wyn­berg slow to adapt to lo­cal con­di­tions and the qual­ity spin bowl­ing from St Bene­dict’s Col­lege and D.S.Se­nanayake Col­lege.

“A day off ex­plor­ing Colombo ap­peared to have re­ju­ve­nated the squad. They pro­ceeded to em­bark upon a five-game win- ning streak which in­cluded a sparkling cen­tury by opener Raythaan Ad­di­nall against Tor­ring­ton Cricket Acad­emy.

There were also four con­sec­u­tive four- wicket hauls from un­der-17 provin­cial leg-spin­ner Dyl­lan Matthews, and a Seenigama Oval record score of 402/9 in a 50-overs-a-side match against tour­ing Dar­ren Lehmann Cricket Acad­emy from Aus­tralia.

Matthews took 21 wick­ets in eight matches on tour.

“Our penul­ti­mate match on tour ended in de­feat. We were out­played by a well-drilled St Thomas’ Col­lege. It was a par­tic- ular eye opener to wit­ness the op­po­si­tion bowl­ing 40 con­sec­u­tive overs of high-qual­ity spin, not some­thing South African school­boy crick­eters are par­tic­u­larly ac­cus­tomed to fac­ing.

The fi­nal game – against Lumbini Col­lege at the im­pres­sive Tamil Union Grounds – was aban­doned with­out a ball be­ing bowled as mon­soon-like rain set­tled over Colombo.

“Tours of this na­ture tran­scend cricket and off- the- field mem­o­ries will in­clude a visit to the an­cient and re­mote Bud­dhist monastery on Tem­ple Is­land and hav­ing din­ner with su­per­star, Kumar San­gakkara.

The boys are un­likely to for­get the hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence of fac­ing the Foun­da­tion of Good­ness XI ei­ther: a team com­pris­ing of Boxing Day tsunami or­phans.

“It was a thrill to play cricket in a land with so great a pas­sion for the game. Passers-by on foot and on mo­tor­cy­cles would take time out of their day to be­come in­ter­ested spec­ta­tors, en­thralled by the news that Jac­ques Kal­lis’s old school was in town.

“The prospect of an ex­change pro­gramme be­tween Wyn­berg and St Thomas’ Col­lege is an ex­cit­ing, tour-re­lated legacy too.”

Dyl­lan Matthews

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