Potchefstroom - Tuks were crowned the inaugural Varsity Cricket Champions when they beat Maties by five wickets in the final in Potchefstroom on Sunday.
A fine batting performance from Gerald Pike, who hit 50 off 38 and Heinrich Klaasen, whose lower order blitz yielded 37 off 20, helped Tuks chase down the 126-run target set by Maties.
Along with the honour of being crowned inaugural Varsity Cricket champs, Tuks will also go on to represent South Africa at the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Final in India later this year.
Tuks were the strongest team for much of tournament, and finished top of the log after the group stage, winning six out of their seven matches. They then crushed UJ by 59 runs in the semi-final to take them all the way to the final of the tournament.
Tuks continued their good form into the final match and dominated most of the match against Maties, who could not build on their good form in the group stages, where they won five of their seven games.
After an impressive comeback against Pukke in their semi-final earlier in the day, Maties struggled with the bat in the final. They had won the toss and elected to bat first, but struggled to get going.
First to fall was Jean Bredenkamp, who was bowled around his legs by Corbin Bosch in the fourth over. Bredenkamp had contributed just 16 off 12 balls and after four overs Maties were 25-1.
David Bedingham followed him back to the hutch after adding 11 off 13 thanks to a brilliant caught and bowled effort from Aiden Markram. Reaching out to his right, Markram grabbed a one-handed dolly as Stellenbosch stuttered to 57-2.
Their hopes lay in the hands of dangerman Jean Marais. Marais is the top-scorer for the tournament (347 runs at an average of 43.37 in nine matches) and added 33 off 35 for his team before he too was sent packing when he was trapped in front of the stumps by Ruben Claassen.
With the score now 63-3 after 10.3 overs, Maties needed something special from their other star player, Dewald Botha, but he departed in the very next over for 11 off 13.
With the pressure on, Maties struggled for meaningful partnerships down the order and despite Leon le Roux's lone charge of 32 off 25, they Stellenbosch team managed just 125 runs in 20 overs.
Tuks' chase got off to a dubious start when they lost both their openers early on, but Pike and Klaasen combined for an impressive 62-run stand to see their team home.
The inaugural tournament can be deemed a great success and Francois Pienaar, founder of Varsity Sports, was impressed with the way the competition unfolded.
“This tournament has been a long time coming. We have covered all the other sporting codes, so it was only a matter of time. I’m really happy with the way this week has unfolded,” Pienaar said.
The tournament has seen some exciting innovations, like the Power Play Plus Over, in which runs scored are doubled and five runs are lost when a wicket falls.
Pienaar says that this kind of innovation is what forms one of the cores of Varsity Sports.
“We see ourselves as an incubator for trying new things. We have done it with the other codes so we tried it here,” the former Springbok captain said.
Pienaar also hinted at the possibility of the tournament moving to another venue when it returns.
“Hosting the tournament is about having the right facilities. The facilities in Potch are fantastic, but a lot of other universities are putting their hands up wanting to host the tournament,” Pienaar added.
Maties: 125/7 (J Marais 33, L le Roux 32; V Moore 2/18, C Bosch 2/23)
UP-Tuks: 129/5 (G Pike 50, H Klaasen 37*; N Botha 2/18, J Dill 1/11)