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Bowling overs in the Kgalagadi
The starkly beautiful Kgalagadi landscape is home to an amazing array of fauna, flora, and, on occasion, cricketers! The field is a dry and dusty patch of open ground just outside of the Kgalagadi Transfronier Park. The players? An assorted bunch of Scientists, Rangers, Field Guides and community members who came out in the Kalahari midday sun to play cricket!
“As far as anybody can remember there has never been an official cricket team in the Kgalagadi Transfronier Park says Jan Kriel, head of Field Guiding in the park. “The local community challenged the Kgalagadi Transfronier Park to get a team together and to play a friendly against them and we obliged”, he explains.
The game was played at Welkom Community Village just outside the park. “Playing in the dirt was rough ”, he explains, “because it made the ball slow and also bowling was very difficult, but under circumstances we had to make the best of it, dust and all!”
The KTP team won the match by 5 wickets, “but what was important was the fact that the community and the park could get together and have some sport” says Kriel. He believes in the power of sport to break down boundaries, and that this kind of park/community interaction is uplifting for all involved. Many community members are unemployed and entertainment is scarce, “that’s why this game was so well received ”, he adds. In spite of the fact that the park and the community are short of equipment and in search of sponsors, they plan to keep playing, based on the success of this initial match.
This match was so sucessful in fact that future matches have been planned between the Kgalagadi Transfronier Park team and the Skukuza Team from Kruger National Park. There is also talk of getting a team made up of SANParks Forum Members together, to play in late January at Skukuza.
“We certainly want more teams to come and play against us!!!" exclaims KNP Spokesperson, Raymond Travers."
“I remember speaking to KNP a while ago, and we did mention a game”, confirms Kriel, “I didn't know if he was very serious about it though-he sounded a bit scared" he laughs.
KNP's reply: "Bring. It. On".
It looks like the stage is set and at the last check, our forum members were busy deciding team members. Watch this site for details as the plans for this historic cricket match unfold between the Kgalagadi and Kruger…
The KTP team members included Jan Kriel Head : Field Guiding, Dr Gus Mills: Researcher, Vicky Isaacs: SAPD Border patrol, Andre Butler: Field Guide, Diedie Kleinman: Gate guard (Son of the well known late Oom Vet Piet), Aubrey Murphey: Assistant Section Ranger, Ricardo Julies: Receptionist, Eric Bezuidenhout: Wilderness Camp Assistant, Hannes Heyns: Manager Technical services, Willem Ferri:s Duty Manager, Edward Snyders: Wilderness Camp Assistant
The Community Team consisted of Jan Julies: School principle (Welkom) , Michael Esterhuizen: Poverty Relief Project Assistant, Willem Pearson, Derrick Mienies, Erick Mienies, Brenton De Wee, Claudius Jagers, Jerome Cloete, Jan Neels, Elton Esterhuizen.