Message from Mr Jonathan Oppenheimer

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THE OPPENHEIMER MICHAELMAS CRICKET WEEK : 1959 – 2018

The Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week has been a feature of the South African cricket season for 59 years. Prior to the inception of Oppenheimer Michaelmas Cricket Week, other school cricket festivals had taken place; one was held in Grahamstown as far back as 1898, and an inter-schools week was held in Durban in 1925, in which four Natal and four Transvaal schools took part. There was, of course, the Offord Cricket Week in Natal, which was played annually from December 1932 until December 1993 under the auspices of the Natal Cricket Association. In 1994 the Offord Week format changed quite radically, in that all teams participating were composite sides drawn from regions around Natal, and the former independent school team players were selected for one or more of these teams. Other provinces have imitated the Offord Week concept and in recent years several ‘invitation’ festivals, such as the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Week, have been established. However, the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Invitation Week is the oldest ‘private’ festival cricket week. It has been held annually since 1959 (except in 1970) and the 2018 Week will be the fifty-ninth.

The first Week was held from September 28th to October 1st in 1959. The late Mr LCW Theobald, who was Master-in-Charge of Cricket at DHS from 1949 to 1967 and the late Mr RM Chambers of Maritzburg College were jointly responsible for the foundation of the Week and its organisation for the first six years. At first, four schools took part; the two host schools with KES and Jeppe. The schools played each other on the first three days and on the last day matches were played against DJ McGlew’s XI, the Penguins CC (from Port Elizabeth), Richmond CC and Wartburg CC.

In the first four Weeks, the schools played against Men’s Country Districts XI’s from the Natal Midlands areas of Eston, Howick, Greytown, Wartburg, Richmond and Nelsrust. Furthermore, in 1960 and 1961, DHS and Maritzburg College joined forces and fielded two combined teams under the two school captains, i.e. Clarkson’s XI and Sharratt’s XI and in 1960 these teams even played each other. At the same time St John’s joined the Week in 1960 and a combined Transvaal Schools team played against Maritzburg College and DHS in 1962. It was not until 1963 that the Week became an entirely schools’ affair, with six teams, including Michaelhouse, Combined Midlands Schools, KES and Pretoria Boys High School. In 1964, the schools invited were Kearsney, Combined Midlands, Queen’s College and KES.

In 1965 the Week assumed the format which was to remain unchanged until 1980, i.e. ten teams, five from Natal playing against five from other provinces. The five Natal Schools remained virtually constant since Glenwood replaced Kearsney in 1967. As for the others, invitations have been extended to a number of regular visitors. In 1980, the total number of teams was increased to twelve, six ‘local’ and six from ‘abroad’. This year the number of participating sides is at 20, a far cry from 1959 when only four schools were involved. Cricket South Africa have again sent a composite side from their Talent Acceleration Programme (TAP) this year to do battle against four top schoolboy sides. The addition of the CSA TAP team into the Oppenheimer Michaelmas Week of late has enriched the week and is a strong link for the Week in supporting the development of players and programmes of Cricket South Africa. The CSA TAP team have significant depth and matches are testing many of the teams at the Week.

The following schools have participated in Oppenheimer Michaelmas Week at one time or another. (The number of previous Weeks attended is reflected in brackets.)

KWAZULU-NATAL TEAMS & INVITATIONAL TEAMS

  • Maritzburg College (58)
  • Durban High School (57)
  • Glenwood High School (48)
  • Hilton College (47)
  • Michaelhouse (45)
  • Kearsney College (25)
  • Westville Boys’ High School (21)
  • Alexandra High School (14)
  • St Charles College (14)
  • Natal Development XI (6)
  • KwaZulu-Natal Development XI (4)
  • Northwood School (6)
  • Clifton School (4)
  • CSA (TAP)
  • Invitational XI (3)
  • Northlands Boys High School (1)
  • Combined Midlands Schools (1)

INTERNATIONAL

  • The King’s School and The Scots College (Sydney, Australia)
  • an Indian XI (New Delhi)
  • Palmerston North Boys’ High School (1)
  • Westlake Boys High School (4)
  • Taurang Boys College (all New Zealand)

OTHER PROVINCES

  • King Edward VII School (KES) (52) 
  • Pretoria Boys High School (PBHS) (50)
  • Grey College (28)
  • Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) (25)
  • St Stithians College (18)
  • St John’s College (18)
  • Parktown Boys’ High School (10)
  • Hudson Park High School (10)
  • St Alban’s College (6)
  • St David’s Marist Inanda (4)
  • St Andrew’s College (Grahamstown) (6)
  • Jeppe High School for Boys (13)
  • Potchefstroom Boys’ High School
  • Queen’s College
  • Bishops Diocesan College
  • Rondebosch Boys’ High School
  • Graeme College High School for Boys
  • South African College High School (SACS)
  • Dale College
  • Grey High School
  • Woodridge College
  • the Gauteng Cricket Board Youth XI
  • the Eastern Province Development XI
  • St Andrew’s School (Bloemfontein)
  • Hoërskool Waterkloof
  • the Lowveld Invitation XI
  • Griquas’ Development XI