The 2019-20 South African cricket season came to a abrupt end in early March due to the Coronavirus pandemic, kick-starting a scramble for players – with Varsity Cricket graduates featuring prominently.
Unusually, almost every domestic professional cricketer became a ‘free agent’ at the end of the 2019-20 season and many have used that status to seek new pastures.
Among those with a Varsity Cricket background, Tony de Zorzi (Tuks captain 2017-18) is perhaps the most high-profile ‘mover’. The 22-year-old left-handed batsman – a former national Under-19 captain – has decided to leave the Titans after four seasons in Centurion to head to the Cape Cobras. The B.Com Entrepreneurship graduate will also have a familiar face for company, as long-time teammate Corbin Bosch (Tuks 2015, 2018) is joining him in moving south – once lockdown allows them to of course!
At the same time, the Cape Cobras have handed added erstwhile Boland star Isma-eel Gafieldien (Maties 2015, 2017 and 2019) his first full professional contract and brought in all-rounder Onke Nyaku (Madibaz 2016-17) from the Port Elizabeth-based Warriors.
Considering the success of Tuks in winning four of the five Varsity Cricket tournaments which have taken place to date, it’s no surprise their alumni dominate the new movers. Talented Ruan de Swardt (Tuks 2018-19), who was on a rookie contract at the Titans last season, has secured a full-time deal at the Dolphins in Durban. Meanwhile, his Stripe Generation elders, Jacques Snyman (Tuks 2015) and Migael Pretorius (Tuks 2017) will now call Bloemfontein their home, as they have signed for the Knights.
Interestingly, all the ins and outs have left the Titans with only two former Tuks stars on contract – 2018 and 2019 FNB Player of the Tournament Neil Brand and Heinrich Klaasen, who captained Tuks to the title in the inaugural edition in 2015. The Titans, though, have snapped up pace bowler and BA holder Lizaad Williams (UWC 2015 and 2017-18) from Cape Cobras to add to their graduate ranks.
Meanwhile, their neighbours in Johannesburg, the Highveld Lions have made top-order batsman Joshua Richards (UJ 2018-19) a fully-fledged squad member for the 2020-21 season.
The unheralded Warriors always have to be smart in their recruiting, as Stefan Tait (Madibaz 2015-16)showed when arriving on loan from South-Western Districts halfway through last season. The tearaway quick now has a full-time deal, and it will interesting to see how former Highveld Lions batsman Wihan Lubbe (NWU 2015-17) and Knights spinner Tshepo Ntuli (CUT 2018) also turn into success stories.
That has been the case with Anrich Nortjé (Madibaz 2015-16), who has been rewarded for his stellar performances for the Proteas by having his Warriors deal upgraded to a full-time national contract – joining Aiden Markram (Tuks 2015) and Lungi Ngidi (Tuks 2015-16) on Cricket South Africa’s books.
VARSITY CRICKET ALUMNI IN 2020-21 FRANCHISE CRICKET SQUADS
Cape Cobras: Corbin Bosch (Tuks 2015, 2018), Tony de Zorzi (Tuks 2017-18), Isma-eel Gafieldien (Maties 2015, 2017 and 2019), Zubayr Hamza (UWC 2016-17), Janneman Malan (NWU 2015-18), Onke Nyaku (Madibaz 2016-17), Jason Smith (UWC 2015-16)
Dolphins: Marques Ackerman (NWU 2015-17), Ruan de Swardt (Tuks 2018-19), Keith Dudgeon (UJ 2015-16), Grant Roelofsen (UJ 2015-17)
Highveld Lions: Bjorn Fortuin (NWU 2015), Delano Potgieter (UJ 2015-19), Kagiso Rapulana (NWU 2015), Joshua Richards (UJ 2018-19), Ryan Rickelton (UJ 2016-18)
Knights: Andries Gous (UFS 2015-16), Migael Pretorius (Tuks 2017), Jacques Snyman (Tuks 2015)
Titans: Neil Brand (Tuks 2018-19), Heinrich Klaasen (Tuks 2015), Lizaad Williams (UWC 2015 and 2017-18)
Warriors: Wihan Lubbe (NWU 2015-17), Edward Moore (Madibaz 2015-16), Lesiba Ngoepe (UWC 2015), Tshepo Ntuli (CUT 2018), Stefan Tait (Madibaz 2015-16)
*new movers in italics