THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS CRICKET FESTIVAL
It is always preferable to score a century, but in 2023, St Alban’s College is celebrating its Diamond Jubilee, and 60 is certainly not a bad number to pick if you are out in the middle.
It is a pleasure to welcome staff, parents and boys to the St Alban’s campus for the Standard Bank Independent Schools’ Cricket Festival and this year; it is particularly significant as we celebrate 60 years of cricket being played on this campus. Our Founder Headmaster, Anton Murray, was a Springbok cricketer, and as a result, cricket has played a prominent role from our inception years. Anton played ten Test matches for South Africa as an all-rounder. He was a vigorous right-handed batsman, an accurate medium-paced stock bowler, and one of the most athletic members of the brilliant fielding team that toured Australia in 1952-53. He played four Tests, missing the fourth because of appendicitis (the after-effects of which hampered him on his return), but his 51 in the second Test was vital in helping put South Africa into position for their first win over Australia in 42 years. His only Test century came later in that tour, at Wellington. He scored 109, and his seventh-wicket partnership of 246 with Jackie McGlew was then a world Test record.
Anton would be proud of all St Alban’s has achieved over the years, but he would be particularly proud of the Independent Schools’ Cricket Festival and the rivalry, collegiality and camaraderie displayed over many years. The Festival has been around for over 30 years, and we welcome all the participating schools, particularly the founder schools, as we celebrate our 60th anniversary. There is a rich legacy of competitive sportsmanship and positive interaction over a long period of time, and it is a privilege to welcome old friends, staff, particularly those who have attended and supported this Festival for several years, parents and boys to our beautiful campus.
We are delighted that many parents have travelled from around the country to join their sons, and we sincerely hope that you will enjoy all that Pretoria has to offer. Please take advantage of our hospitality, relax and enjoy yourselves and do not hesitate to ask our staff or boys if you have any queries or require assistance. The Anton Murray Pavilion is there to be used at your convenience, as is the Tom Hamilton Wellness Centre, where you can get an early morning cup of coffee from our very own Barista, Lawrence Mthombeni.
It has been wonderful to welcome Anton Ferreira to the College as our Director of Cricket, and he has already had a profound effect on how we do things at St Alban’s. Anton first stepped onto the St Alban’s campus as a schoolboy in the sixties during Anton Murray’s headmastership, and it is wonderful to have him back in a formal capacity. Anton played 19 seasons of first-class cricket for Northern Transvaal, eight seasons for Warwickshire, and two unofficial internationals for South Africa before hanging up his bats and boots to become involved in coaching. Anton has been involved in a number of different roles at CSA, but he has focused on coaching education and the development of coaches. CSA’s coaching course has been his responsibility, and he has also been the director of the National Academy and coach of the SA U19 team. Anton has ensured that this Festival will honour his namesake, Anton Murray, and I would encourage you to engage with him as you enjoy our facilities.
Appreciation is also extended to Garth Turvey, our Director of Sport, and Chicco Ponela, our High-Performance Coach, for their passion and hard work for this event. The fact that our fields and gardens are in such good shape is a tribute to our Facilities Manager, Rob Schipholt and our Grounds Manager, John Nkuna, who himself played in this Festival on two occasions while a schoolboy here over a decade ago.
Enjoy the highveld sunshine, enjoy the collegiality that this Festival is known for and enjoy the competitiveness on the field and the relationships and friendships you will build as the Festival unfolds.
(6th Headmaster, St Alban’s College)