Mecer NMMU-Madibaz captain Matthew Christensen has called on his team to improve their run-scoring when they compete in the Varsity Cricket Twenty20 tournament in Potchefstroom next week.
The Port Elizabeth outfit will join seven other varsities in the hunt for the title of student T20 champions, with the incentive of qualifying for the Red Bull Campus Cricket World Finals looming large.
Reflecting on last year, the 20-year-old Christensen, who played for Eastern Province when they won the Africa Cup T20 early this season, said they would be looking for better performances at the crease.
“We didn’t score enough runs last year,” said the former Rondebosch High and SA Schools captain. “We averaged 120-odd runs as a team per game and to compete we need to score 150 or more consistently in a tournament of this magnitude.”
The Madibaz skipper said they had a well-rounded unit, who often played their best cricket when their backs were against the wall.
They open their programme against University of Johannesburg on Monday and while he said they would be aiming for a good start, he added that consistency in their cricket through the week would be the essential ingredient.
“I wouldn’t say a win in the first game is the be-all and end-all of it, although it does set you up for the week and ease some of the pressure,” said the top-order batsman.
“But to win the tournament you need to play well throughout, not just in the beginning.”
Christensen said their biggest challenge would be putting together the right combinations for the format.
“We have lost some players to franchise commitments and others have finished their studies so we have to work on filling those gaps.
“It’s an exciting tournament that a lot of the guys look forward to play in. They enjoy showing their skills on a bigger stage, but I don’t feel there’s that much pressure because quite a few of our players are still learning to play at varsity level.”
He added that players such as fast bowler Solo Nqweni, legspinner Junaid Dawood and batsman Aubrey Ferreira had the potential to do well.
“Solo has amazing skills with the ball and experience with T20 cricket, as he showed in the Africa Cup for EP.
“Junaid Dawood is an up-and-coming legspinner and Aubrey Ferreira adds attacking play to our batting line-up.”
Christensen said much of their preparations had been done indoors.
“We’ve been working on specifics as we need to adjust to up-country conditions. Our coastal pitches are very different to what we’ll be playing on at Varsity Cricket.”
The tournament runs from Monday to Saturday, with the final being played at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom on February 4.
NMMU’s fixtures are:
January 30: vs UJ; January 31: vs Free State, vs NWU-Pukke; February 1: vs UWC; February 2: vs UCT; February 3: vs Maties, vs Tuks; February 4: semifinals and final