Despite putting up a brave fight, UWC Cricket Club narrowly missed out on the 2016 Varsity Cricket title when they lost to Tuks by 21 runs in a thrilling final in Potchefstroom on Saturday, 30 January.
Although losing the final was disappointing, the UDubs boys have many reasons to be proud. Without the services of three of their key players in Lizaad Williams, Jason Smith, and Lesiba Ngoepe (who were selected by the Cape Cobras, the franchise cricket team representing the Western Province and Boland areas), many gave the UWC side no chance of reaching the final.
After three wins, three losses, and one game washed out in the round-robin stage, UWC made it to the semifinals where they knocked out the University of Johannesburg, a team that beat them in the earlier stages. In the process, a number of players were honoured for their performances.
During the final, Tuks, who won the Red Bull Campus Cricket competition in India last year, ended on 174/5, before UWC were restricted to 153/6, dashing their dreams of taking the trophy home.
UWC coach Chezley Fortuin said the team was disappointed with their defeat as they had intended to carry their winning momentum to the final. However, he also said they are proud about reaching the final, especially considering that nobody gave them a chance.
“Many people thought that without those three players (who were selected for the Cobras) we would not make it beyond the round-robin league. But I was not surprised by our good performance in the tournament because we have quality players in our squad. We have no superstars, but everybody played as a unit.”
Fortuin, who took over coaching responsibilities from former Proteas bowler Charl Langeveldt, noted that the team has learnt a lot from their mistakes in the Varsity Cricket tournament and will work on them moving forward.