Thomas Anders final South African Blog

I know it’s a little late, given that we arrived back on Irish shores little over a week ago but here is the last of my missives! I got a little pre-occupied during our last week in South Africa, due to not wanting to waste time – this is an update on about a month’s life since my most recent blog.

When I wrote my last note to you all, the sun was setting on our trip, we were looking to enjoy the time that remained and we ended up doing just that. During the week that we finished school cricket for the season, George Dockrell, Irish spinner and former Leinster ‘pupil’ at Muir dropped in for a visit. The full Irish Senior Cricket team was staying in Port Elizabeth for a week’s acclimatisation ahead of the T20 World Cup Qualifiers, a coincidence that ended up benefitting us enormously. When George dropped in he was able to catch up with current and past 1st team players in the school as well as meeting us. He certainly had some memories to share! Later that evening after George had returned, Benn got a text from Trent Johnston inviting all of us to train with them the next day!

At 7 o’clock the following morning we woke up, ate and after a long bus journey to a local university arrived into a training camp filled with technology, kit bags and players we knew. There was the 17 man squad, ranging from experienced heads, Boyd Rankin and William Porterfield to the uncapped Rory McCann. For the first hour we shook numerous hands and were fully introduced. After that, however, it was all-action. First we were to warm up Paul Stirling in the nets and later to contribute to the intense middle practice. My personal highlight was walking out to bowl with Trent who was asking me standard questions between barking orders at fielders. We all got a huge buzz from the experience, as Pete Johnson took us under his wing and helped us analyse areas for improvement!! Michael learnt from a one-on-one with Gary Wilson while Jack and Benn talked to Andrew White about spin bowling’s field placings in twenty20 cricket.

All happy with our days’ work we drove home with Trent and after a few dodgy directions we arrived home with another invitation for the following day.

What followed was fairly similar to the first day – for me, a long chat with Nigel Jones about our shared unorthodox bowling action and how best to utilise it was particularly valuable. For some reason we seemed to make a good impression on the lads as William Porterfield invited us to a Braai the next day at the team hotel. The next day turned out to be a chill-out day for the team and we sat with them and enjoyed some of Kevin O’Brien’s birthday cake! A story to tell to non-cricketers I’m sure!

What followed during our last week was a lot of travelling to Port Elizabeth city to sight-see and visit a lovely beach with massive waves. On the last Friday a classmate of ours hosted a party for our farewell. We arrived early and enjoyed a great night of music, dancing and being around his swimming pool! A very nice send-off, for which, I’m truly grateful. It also filled up my camera space which is now on 256 photos! I will never forget the trip now! Michael made a speech to the teachers and Hostel staff/students thanking them for a memorable nine weeks.

I haven’t even mentioned the last match! Muir College was celebrating 190 years. On our last full day we each had matches for the current players to play invited past players. I played against a Muir invitational XI with the 1sts, Michael, Benn and Jack all played in a 2nds invitational XI including two of our teachers!! They played a T20 game and Jack got a 50! The others also fielded and bowled well enough to tie the game, Benn bowling a brilliant penultimate maiden over and Michael (the wicketkeeper) taking two wickets!

In my match, fifty over game, Muir school fielded first and I started with a wicket sixth ball of the match! We bowled so slowly it took 4 hours exactly in the 33 degree heat, I bowled 10 overs with a return of 2-28. I was nervous, however, as my first solid opportunity with the bat came in the form of opening the batting against Sissi Magala, the Warriors opening bowler who was clocked at 143 Km/ph the week before! I did alright though reaching the teens and just as I thought I was in I nicked one off Sissi. Cricket, eh! A good day nonetheless as we talked all night after saying farewell to people will try to keep in touch with in the weeks and months ahead.

After that there was only the nearly 24-hour journey to navigate and we managed with relative success. If Benn missing the last flight could count as that! We all got home safely though within a three hour window and even met up at an Ireland under-17 training session on Sunday in Dublin.

Altogether, it was an experience of a lifetime. I’m struggling to get back to normal. Skype and Facebook help me keep in touch with the people but I’ll never sample this again and that makes me miss the place even more. Thank you for reading any of these blogs, I’ve really enjoyed writing them.

Thomas Anders

I know it’s a little late, given that we arrived back on Irish shores little over a week ago but here is the last of my missives! I got a little pre-occupied during our last week in South Africa, due to not wanting to waste time – this is an update on about a month’s life since my most recent blog.

When I wrote my last note to you all, the sun was setting on our trip, we were looking to enjoy the time that remained and we ended up doing just that. During the week that we finished school cricket for the season, George Dockrell, Irish spinner and former Leinster ‘pupil’ at Muir dropped in for a visit. The full Irish Senior Cricket team was staying in Port Elizabeth for a week’s acclimatisation ahead of the T20 World Cup Qualifiers, a coincidence that ended up benefitting us enormously. When George dropped in he was able to catch up with current and past 1st team players in the school as well as meeting us. He certainly had some memories to share! Later that evening after George had returned, Benn got a text from Trent Johnston inviting all of us to train with them the next day!