As I enter my fourth week here at St Stithians College, Johannesburg, I look back on what has been an unforgettable experience I have had so far.
I am staying with the Cox family who have made me feel so welcome at their home in Roodepoort. Dylan, their son came over to Pembroke Cricket Club for the 2019 season as part of the Cricket Leinster exchange programme.
It was a smooth journey via Istanbul to Johannesburg where I landed at lunch time on a Tuesday afternoon. We got straight into things as school started the following day. It was a very early start as school starts at 7:30am!
This is a sample of my standard day. Wake up at 5:30am for school. Leave for school at around 6:15am. At 10am I go to the gym and/or go for a run. Have lunch at around 12pm. Cricket training at 1 pm with the other Exchange students at the school or with Mr. Stringer who is an excellent coach at St. Stithians. Team training starts at 3pm and goes on until 4:30pm.
I started off matches fairly quickly playing for the 2XI with a trip to Bloemfontein on my first weekend. We played against Grey College. On that Saturday we played a T-20 and on Sunday we played a 40 over match. I got off to a good start scoring 45 not out in the T-20 and 49 in the 40 over game. The following Wednesday we had a game against Queen’s High School in a T-20. It was a Johnny Waite game, which is a T-20 tournament. I scored 75 in this game and we topped our group with a win. Our game that Saturday was called off due to heavy rain the night before and that morning. I was very excited to get picked for the 1XI the following week to play against Pretoria school Waterkloof. I scored 27 not out before the game was called off due to lightening being too close-by. I got picked to play against local rivals King Edwards School for the 1XI that Saturday. I wasn't needed to bat that game as the top order batted long and scored all the runs. It was great to win the game. My most recent game was against Redhill 1XI in a T-20. I was lucky to get pushed up the order a bit to number 4. I scored 38 before getting caught.
I have recently joined Khosa Cricket Club. I play my club cricket most Sunday's. The club is coached by former Irish International, Andre Botha. It's been great chatting to him about his career for Ireland.
Mark Garaway was also over at St. Stithians for two weeks. Mark was the High Performance Director for Cricket Ireland for two years, England's team analyst for three years and is now director of cricket at Millfield School in Somerset. Mark obviously has a lot of knowledge on the game so whenever I could I was asking him questions and tapping into his head. It was great to have a few sessions with him before he went home.
I am joined by fellow YMCA man Jamie Forbes at St. Stithians. There are five other Leinster cricketers who are all attending Glenwood High School in Durban - John Devane (North County), Luke Whelan (North County), Patrick Morris (Pembroke), Conor Cooney (Phoenix) and Alec Jackson (YMCA).
Opportunities like these don't come around often so you have to be to make the most of it when you can and to have the opportunity to train on the world class facilities that St. Stithians has to offer is second to none.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in making this trip possible for me, especially Mr Wim Jansen (St. Stithians), Brían O'Rourke (Cricket Leinster), Ms. Gretchen Maruggi (St. Stithians), The Cox family (Joan, Stephen and Dylan) and Ms. Byrne (Principal, Sandford Park School).
YMCA CC & Sandford Park School