The KwaZulu-Natal Inland provincial cricket team claimed a historic victory over Western Province in the Sunfoil 3-Day Cup final at Western Province Cricket Club in Cape Town on Sunday to end what has been a revolutionary 2015/16 season for the Pietermaritzburg based outfit.
While having already secured the CSA Provincial T20 Challenge title earlier in the season, it was the first class trophy that the Shane Burger’s side so desperately sought after topping Pool B at the end of the group stage.
Winning the toss and batting first, Inland made their made to 268 all out, thanks in the main to a maiden first class hundred by captain Mbasa Gqadushe (116) and Kyle Nipper’s 69 before three wickets apiece by Ruhan Pretorius (3/10) and Graham Hume (3/45) and two by Kerwin Mungroo saw WP bowled out for just 137.
With a lead of 131 runs, Inland’s batsmen somewhat stumbled their way to 162 all out in their second innings, Divan van Wyk (32), Lefa Mosena (27), Kushen Kishun (26) and Pretorius (25) all getting starts but no one kicking on further.
Set 294 for victory, WP ended day three on 131/3 before being reduced to 247 all out – thanks in the main to Pretorius (4/38) and Gareth Dukes (3/38) – to hand KZN Inland a 46 run victory and their second title of the season.
“Sunday was a massive day for all of us at KZN Inland,” said head coach Shane Burger. “This has been a three year process and to have seen how the guys have bought into that process and now to reap the rewards of that truly has been special!”
“This was such a huge achievement for our entire squad, even for those who have played franchise cricket like Kyle Nipper and Divan van Wyk who have been around for some time now but had never won a three-day trophy up until now!
“Almost every single player walked off that field with tears building and to see it mean so much to them just goes to show that we’ve created something quite unique within the squad and hopefully this is just the start for us at Inland,” he added.
With the province’s other provincial side, KwaZulu-Natal, having also been in the running for finals qualification up until the final round of group stage fixtures, the conveyor belt of talent being prepared for future franchise duty appears to be running smoothly.
“From everyone at the Sunfoil Dolphins, we would like to congratulate the entire KZN Inland setup, particularly Shane and the players, for their tremendous results this season and especially their Sunfoil 3-Day Cup victory!” exclaimed a jubilant Pete de Wet, CEO of the Sunfoil Dolphins.
“To see how the team has progressed in recent seasons and then for them to have stepped things up even further this season really has been very pleasing and we look forward to many more great achievements from this crop of players in the near future,” he added.
Cricket South Africa Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat extended his congratulations to the team as well, noting the importance of the provincial competitions to South African cricket.
“Our various semi-professional competitions are vital parts of our talent development pipeline,” commented Lorgat.
“It is only the truly exceptional who can jump from youth cricket straight into top flight franchise cricket. Our provincial competitions provide the first important steps in developing the majority of our young cricketers.
“The very fact that Stephen Cook made a highly successful debut this year for the Proteas at the age of 33 is testimony to the fact that players can succeed at the highest level after playing several years of provincial and franchise cricket.
“Players who successfully moved into franchise cricket over the past year after progressing through our semi-professional level include Tabraiz Shamsi, Sarel Erwee, Sisanda Magala, Duanne Olivier and Mbulelo Budaza.
“Once again we have much to thank the Willowton Group for their huge contribution towards our cricket at all levels through their Sunfoil brand,” he added.