A long-haul school trip takes a great deal of organising and the South Africa Cricket tour was no different. Over the last two years, there have been weekly training sessions in the gym, staff sumo wrestling competitions, spring fairs, baking competitions, dinners with guest speakers, St Valentine’s Day chocolates and flowers and so much more. All to raise money for the South Africa Cricket tour.
Favours were called in from every direction and thanks to the generosity of The OBA, Grays Schoolwear and Andrew Wright Coaches, we were royally kitted out and able to travel down to Gatwick Airport.
Most but not all of the lads had flown before, Turkish Airlines came up trumps and we soon arrived in Cape Town. We were a little weary but not a single item of luggage was lost. We met Eugene the rep and Martin the driver-both kind and helpful people. An hour later we were driving through glorious warm sunshine and we soon arrived at our upgraded hotel the ‘Krystal Beach’ in Gordon’s Bay.
We were straight into a cricket session and there was a great deal of cricket on this tour. Nearly every day we had a training session and we had six matches during our tour. Our hosts throughout were welcoming and generous and all the matches were played in a great atmosphere. Our bowling attack was good but we also knew that our batting had less depth than your average puddle. During the tour Hamza Amin showed what a good bowler he was, and Isaac Blackburn repeatedly bowled well, his best spell gained 4 for 16 in 5 overs. We bowled Plumstead School all out for 69 runs and we consistently took wickets. However, as suspected, we were less successful at the crease. Aidan Robinson (Tour Captain), Oliver Catterall and Hamza Amin repeatedly nearly got away, but the standard of cricket was high, and no one scored a fifty or better during the tour. Zain Khohkar grew in confidence and bowled increasingly well as the tour progressed and Abdullah Jan and Muhammad Ismail both caught great catches in the final game of the tour.
The scenery in South Africa was spectacular and quite different from our usual backdrop. We played a day/night match against Bishops School under the floodlights with Table Mountain in sight, we stayed in the Stellenbosch area where there are thousands of acres of vineyards as far as the eye can see and we saw penguins at Betty’s Bay.
This was a cricket tour but it was a great deal more than just that. During our tour we went zip lining, penguin spotting and we had surfing lessons (Cam Stephens was very good at this!). We played beach football, ate out at the V and A waterfront in Cape Town, played beach cricket, ate braai (South African BBQ), saw two Women’s World 20/20 matches Newlands Stadium, Cape Town) and in Paarl. We also went to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years and saw the prison from which the great man was released. We conquered Table Mountain (with the help of the cable car) in 40 degrees heat and we visited Cape Point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic. The finale of the trip was a safari at the Aquila Game Reserve. We saw many animals: Elephants, Rhino, Buffalo, Springboks, Hippos (very grumpy), Elands, and Lions. It was amazing just how close we were able to get to them.
Prior to the tour we held a fundraising dinner and we promised a tour of a lifetime. South Africa turned out to be just that, great scenery, great sport, great activities, great food, great weather in a wonderful setting. The lads were tremendous and entered every activity with a smile. They are a credit to QEGS.
It really was a once in a lifetime tour and there were memories made that will last a lifetime.
Mr N Vyse & Dr M Butler