Mitchell’s Plain Cricket Club (MPCC) and Blue Bells Cricket Club had to take to the field on one of the hottest days of the year on Saturday.
Dressed in their long whites, cricket shirts and caps, a mixture of sweat and sunscreen trickled down their faces. They were constantly wiping their foreheads with a towels or the palms of their hands.
Under the trees, near the boundary, were a handful of loyal supporters, in conversation, reminiscing about the good old days when the Westridge sports complex used to be packed all around with spectators, enjoying the sport, a sip of a cold drink and some dance music played from a car parked nearby – usually a Citi golf.
But of course, the good old days used to be a little over two years ago, back when handshakes with spectators, umpires and other players were allowed, just before the coronavirus pandemic obstructed proceedings.
Nowadays, in particular this past weekend, players and coaches from both teams were extra cautious.
Promising 16-year-old Blue Bells batsman, Mika’il Toefy, scored 48 runs.
Toefy was two runs shy of a half-a-century. Normally in a situation like this, the coach, his players and opponents would shake hands, fist bump or tap him on the back, as a gesture saying, “hard luck, next time, young man”. The message was, however, carried through with only a fist bump on Saturday.
Toefy admired that the sportsmanship is still there, as the club tries to help as many youngsters to stick to the sport after such a long time away from the field.
“Due to the Covid-19 which resulted in a lot of my friends not returning to the club, I’ve decided to play senior cricket because I just wanted to continue playing the game I love,” said Mika’il.
“I have really enjoyed playing senior cricket. I have learnt a lot and it’s really developed my game. I am in no hurry to play 1st team cricket as I want to be fully ready when my opportunity eventually does come. Hopefully next season,” he said.
The Grade-11 Norman Henshilwood High School pupil had an exceptional performance on Saturday with both the bat and the ball. He picked up 2/37 to help his team claim a 36-run win over MPCC in the Western Province Cricket Club’s third division C.
Toefy has already benefited from his time in the senior ranks after sharing the “Player of the Tournament” prize at the recent under-16 T10 Tri-Series tournament involving the JP21 Foundation and Gary Kirsten Foundation, at the Green Point Track, in December last year.
His father and scorer at the club, Ridwaan Toefy said, with the junior teams impacted by the pandemic, many promising young cricketers joined the senior ranks.
“Toefy is a product of the previously hugely successful Blue Bells CC junior programme that has unearthed many unpolished gems over the years. Despite limited facilities and resources the club’s most recent high-profile graduate was 2019 South Africa under-19 all-rounder Imraan Philander,” said Toefy.
“Former Proteas spin bowler and Cape Cobras coach Paul Adams is, though, Blue Bells’ most prominent former player,” said Toefy.
”Due to his performances and particularly commitment Mika’il has certainly shown that there is hope for the youth during these troubled times with the hope that the numbers will once again swell to the way they previously were,” said Toefy.
Blue Bells CC youth practice on Fridays, from 5pm until 7pm, while the senior sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the same time, at the Rooikrans sports field, in Grassy Park.
Blue Bells set a target of 173/9 in 35 overs. They won by 36 runs after bowling out MPCC for 137/10.