The Hollywoodbets Crusaders are ready to take on the country’s top club cricketers at the Momentum National Club Championships in Pretoria from 22-27 April as they go in search of their second title in as many years.
Crusaders famously claimed their maiden national title in 2015 when they overcame the powerful Maties outfit, becoming the first traditional club to win the tournament in ten years in the process.
Having claimed the KwaZulu-Natal Castle Premier League crown for the seventh time in eight years, the Durban North outfit is now eager to put on a strong showing in a bid to retain their national title.
“We are really looking forward to this year’s tournament,” said captain Michael Alexander. “We’re looking to sticking to what has worked for us back home in the Premier League and hopefully that will produce the results we’re looking for.”
“We obviously want to start the tournament well; it is always important to get things off on a positive note, and then we’ll look to focus on our game and our skills, play together as a family unit and play for the Crusaders badge,” he added.
Crusaders coach Duncan Miller echoed Alexander’s sentiments, backing the club’s ethos to aid in the side’s title quest.
“I think one of the reasons we were successful last year was that we still have a very traditional, old-school club cricket environment and our guys are very close,” said Miller.
“We’re not just a squad that’s been put together, we are all genuinely here for the love of the game and we are all committed to the team and making it a success,” he added.
Despite having lost the services of former skipper Rob Clift and all-rounder Sean Dixon after last year’s successful campaign as well as the late injury withdrawal of young fast bowler Jesse Smit, the ‘Good Guys’ are confident they still have a strong group at their disposal.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve picked up an injury or two recently but we’ve always enjoyed good depth at the club and so we’ve called on some of our youngsters and we look forward to seeing some strong performances from all the boys at club champs,” said Alexander.
“Losing Rob (Clift) and Sean (Dixon) was a big blow but this has opened up opportunities for younger guys to put their hands up this season and take on those roles and we have an exciting group of players coming to the tournament this year,” added Miller.
Sunfoil Dolphins left-hand top order batsman and useful seamer Cameron Delport will add great strength to the Crusaders mix and will be keen to contribute towards the team’s success.
“Cameron has a wealth of experience which he brings to the table and he’s one of those guys who can play any role in the side,” said Miller. “He has the ability to take the game away from a team and dig us out of trouble if we get into one.”
KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union, together with the Sunfoil Dolphins, are excited to be represented by the Crusaders at this year’s tournament as they take on the best clubs from around South Africa.
“Crusaders have a proven track record within KZN and their success at the National Club Champs last year will give them good confidence heading into this year’s tournament,” said KZNCU’s Amateur Manager, Jay Naidoo.
“We at KZNCU, and the Sunfoil Dolphins, wish them everything of the best and urge the guys to go out there and play the kind of cricket both we and they know they are capable of, enjoy the experience and do the province, Union, their club and themselves proud!” he added.
Cricket South Africa General Manager of Cricket, Corrie van Zyl added, “The National Club Championships is the culmination of the affiliate club championships around the country and features the cream of our amateur players.
“As such it is one of the most important windows to showcase the talent coming through our pipeline structures.
“To all competitors, managers and all the other people who make the game possible, enjoy the week, make new friends and make sure that the spirit and values of cricket are upheld by the way in which you play both on and off the field.”
As per 2015, the tournament’s participating teams will do battle for the R50000 winner’s cheque while the runners-up will walk away R20000 richer.
Hollywoodbets Crusaders’ first clash sees them in action against Cape Town Cricket Club at Mamelodi Oval on Friday, 22 April and will be followed by daily match-ups against NWU Pukke, Union Stars Cricket Club, CUT Cricket Club and Steinhoff Maties.
The Momentum National Club Championships final will take place on Wednesday, 27 April at TUT Oval while live scoring of all games will be available at www.crichq.com.