The Beacon Cricket Tour to South Africa

1 March 2024

The first English cricket tour to SA didn’t take place until 1949 when the MCC won a 5 test series 2 – 0. 75 years later it was the turn of The Beacon school to tour and like their original counterparts our boys also won 2 games.

After weeks and weeks of hard organisational work by Mr Robinson, ably aided by Mr Powell and Mr Williams, and hard graft by the tour party in our nets, it was with genuine excitement that the lads boarded our Emirates flight to Cape Town via Dubai.

Upon landing we were whisked away to the scene of our first match for an afternoon of training and acclimatisation around beautiful Stellenbosch. The boys were buoyant going into our first game, which was against Leading Edge the following afternoon.

Leading Edge are a charity team run for disadvantaged children making use of cricket and education to give the children an opportunity to get out of their social deprivation. There was no disadvantage about their cricket ability as they skittled us out for 73 runs in 20 overs. Dino J provided some hope with the bat. Nevertheless, the boys bowled with alacrity, with Rory O and Xander B amongst the wickets. At 50 odd for 6 there was a sniff of victory but the opposition made it home with 3 wickets to spare. A solid start. The best bit about the game wasn’t the cricket but the exchange of cricket kit that the boys, in particular Kishan P, Xander B and Tag L, had collected and raised money for. To see the joy on the South African children’s faces was wonderful if also a little humbling. We might take a pair of batting gloves for granted but they most assuredly did not.

The following day saw a morning 30 over match against Somerset College. The opposition batted first and we just couldn’t shift their opener. Tight bowling was punctuated by wide and no balls at key moments. This was to be a recurring issue as the tour went on. Their captain, Jonno, finished on 83 not out which was the backbone of a total in excess of 200. Ori Bridle was our best bowler with 0 – 19 off 5, while Ben G and Elliott R both picked up wickets. Our boys were not undaunted and a fine chase saw Oran O top score with 34, Dino make 25, Charlie C stroke 23 and Xander hit 19, which meant we were in the hunt with 8 overs to go. Unfortunately the tail refused to wag and the innings fizzled out on 164 meaning a loss by 50 runs. Respectable.

That evening was spent at Newlands Cricket Stadium (which incidentally was where England drew against SA on that 1949 tour) for the SA T20 domestic cup final. The boys loved it nearly as much as the supporting Dad’s did, although what some Dad’s remember about the Eastern Cape’s win over Durban remains to be seen. The day was also memorable for the visit to a Cheetah Sanctuary. Awe inspiring encounters were had by all with one of the world’s most iconic animals.

More animals were the order of the day as the lads then went on a Safari at a private game reserve. Herds of Zebra, a pride of Lions, a parade of elephants and even a bloat of hippos were all witnessed. It was all a tad different to a flock of sheep that Mr Williams was more used to…

An animal of a different kind then influenced the tour party as the first signs of unease and queasiness started to make their feelings felt. Just like in the War of the Worlds, the all powerful Martians were laid low by bugs and bacteria and the same thing happened to us…

At Bridge House School boys were sick in the bus, on the outfield and in the pavilion. With temperatures reaching 40 degrees in Franschhoek there was a danger of not fulfilling the match. Yet an XI took to the field and perhaps really should have won. We made a par score of around 110 but with the fever running through the team our efforts with ball and in field were understandably weak. It was a real shame as that was a game that in normal conditions we would expect to win.

The following day a trip to Robben Island left it’s mark on every member of the tour party as we learned about the black struggle for equality against the political system of Apartheid. The dignity with which our guide spoke left a permanent remainder of man’s inhumanity to fellow man. “We will forgive, but we will never forget”.

That afternoon’s match saw a similar story to the one told at Bridge House in game 3. Against Bishop’s (an SA equivalent of Millfield) Tag L with 1 for 7, O Shea 1 – 12 off four, and Kishan 1 for 21 were the top bowlers and a target of 102 off 20 overs should have been a formality after our batting heroics against Bridge House and Somerset College. Cannon held our innings together, batting beautifully before the curse of the drinks break saw him succumb. Sport doesn’t always deal in fairy tales and getting bowled out for 82 was more of a horror story even allowing for illness. It’s definitely the game that got away…

Our fifth match well and truly saw our boys step up and show the resilience and fortitude that we know they are capable of. Groote Schuur didn’t know what hit them as we rolled them over for a paltry 17 runs. Dino ripped through the top order with 3 wickets, while Ori B had his best bowling spell of the tour with 5 for 3 including a magnificent hat-trick. Oran O  and Thor Kudsee picked up a wicket a piece, both caught and bowled. In reply, the target was a formality but we used the opportunity to bat the full overs. This gave crucial time in the middle for some other boys to get a bat. Byron H made a classy 19, while Cameron R confirmed his potential with 16 including 3 beautiful boundaries.

The tour was now drawing to an end with one game remaining against South African College School. It was another beautiful venue but the pitch contained a number of demons. This made our total of 140 all the more impressive. Xander B had a day to remember leading the way with the bat. With the ball, Ori was again to the fore (3 for 11). Henry L fulfilled his potential with 2 for 9 including a smart caught and bowled, while sharp keeping from Jackson R enabled two run outs. The SACS total stalled on 95 and The Beacon had won by 45 runs. It was a fitting end to the tour and gave justification for all the hard work and progress our young cricketers had made both before and during it.

The final evening was spent on the impressive Victoria and Alfred Waterfront for a final meal together. Bellies were still a little sore but that didn’t stop everyone having a convivial evening with much good humoured chat about the previous 10 days. It was lovely end to a marvellous trip. The boys had bonded together and forged great links that bodes well for the coming cricket season here. It promises to be a good one.

The tour was a proverbial trip of a lifetime. Memories and friendships have been made that will last the test of time. There will always be a piece of South Africa in our hearts. Unfortunately South Africa got a piece of our stomachs in return!!!

Afterword –

Mr Robinson, Mr Powell and Mr Williams would like to thank all the parents for their support before, during and after the tour. Many kind words have been said and we are very appreciative of them. We are also extremely grateful for the generous gifts from the boys and parents. Here’s to the next tour!

Written by Mr Williams 

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