As we all know, 2020 has been a unique year and unlike most years where multiple young, aspiring Leinster cricketers would travel to South Africa and stay for 10-week periods with different host schools. The coronavirus obviously has caused some limitations to this. I had been planning on going to South Africa for Transition Year even before Cricket Leinster gave me this wonderful opportunity. I was supposed to attend Grey College in Bloemfontein from August but there were no flights to South Africa then, so I got on the first flight over here on October 5th. The reason I was able to come over was because I have a South African passport, so I was very fortunate in that regard. I worked on a farm in the Western Cape and was only scheduled to visit Glenwood at the start of their school year in January. Luckily, with the assistance of a few helpers, I got invited for the last month of school, so I got a flight up from Cape Town to Durban which was a better idea than the 25-hour bus journey that would have been.
I arrived on November 2nd in pouring rain so it felt like home for the first time since being in Africa. I was greeted by the highly regarded Glenwood school teacher and cricket coach, Mr Munro, who drove me for about an hour to the school where I unpacked my bags and met some of the boys.
I quickly settled into the routine and it was a massive help that I had Chad Laycock in my dorm to help me with whatever I needed. He was the only boy I knew going there as during the summer of 2019 he stayed with my family for three months when he came over to play with Railway Union. I went to class with him the first day and it was interesting especially sitting in Afrikaans, but the next day I was told it wasn’t worth it as the following week they would be starting exams so instead I met with one of the school coaches. Devon James (a visitor to Phoenix CC in 2019) introduced me to the groundsman who told me about the wickets he was preparing which were obviously very different to our Irish ones. I had nets during the day with Devon and also met with first team coach, ex Natal provincial bowler Brandon Scullard. They gave me some good advice and it was good to get rid of some rust before the matches began.
It came in handy having Chad there as I was able to stay with him at weekends and he lives in a lovely area by the coast and the water is ten times warmer than Ireland. We had an inter-squad game the first weekend at Glenwood which was successful and was the first time the boys were out playing since their first lockdown in March so everyone was excited and it was a high-quality match. The following weekend, both the first and second team played games at Northwood High school.
I met with the Futura Sport Agency recently and Paddy Steytler sat down with me and we just talked cricket and what they offer young cricketers in the Durban area. We have since had a few training sessions and before I finish this term at Glenwood and go back to the Western Cape, I have a three-day camp lined up with him and a few other boys from around Natal.
Altogether, Glenwood have been great hosts to me and made me feel right at home. The atmosphere is always positive and I can’t have any complaints about anything. It has been a great and worthwhile experience so far and I can’t wait to get back to it with pre-season tournaments coming up in Durban and Port Elizabeth and then the regular season beginning when school starts back on January 25th.
Without the well-established relationship developed between Cricket Leinster and Glenwood, this trip would not have been possible, so I would like to give a great thanks to both of them for making this trip into one I will never forget. I would also like to thank the Laycock family for taking good care of me at the weekends and of course all the coaches that have trained with me since I arrived and made me feel just like one of the other Glenwood students.
Philippe le Roux
Blackrock College and Railway Union CC