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The annual Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament is nearly here. Some of the best varsity cricket teams from around the globe will assemble in Sri Lanka from 5-11 September. UP-Tuks enter this year’s tournament as two-time defending champions. UP will attempt to win it for an unprecedented third consecutive time, which would affirm the team as arguably the dominant varsity side in world cricket. UP cricket captain, Murray Coetzee, shared his thoughts on the upcoming tournament.
How have you prepared as a team in the prelude to your title defence this season? With regard to our preparation, we started at the beginning of June already, with very basic pre-season kind of work. We were basically given May off and that consist[ed] of very basic technical work in the nets and so on. Then for the month of July we started getting more into live net, facing bowlers [and] getting a little more match specific. For the whole of August now we’ve been playing biweekly inter-squad games. We played a game against the Sri Lankan emerging side and we managed to beat them, so I think that’s a good sign of the hard yards that have been done by this stage. So it’s more about feeling good and the guys going over confidently.
Looking back on last season’s successful campaign, what would you say was key to winning the tournament? I think what was very key to our success last year was having a strong bowling attack. The wickets in India were very flat; there wasn’t a lot in them for the bowlers in terms of spin or seam. Our bowlers still managed to execute to a point where the highest score we conceded was a score of 160 and that was in defence of a score of 210. So that definitely takes a lot of pressure off the batsmen, and I think we have a very similar bowling attack that’s a year more experienced this year so I think we can definitely take that as a positive. And then I think in terms of the batsmen, a lot of the players that went last year are going this year again. I think as a batting unit its mostly about taking responsibility even in a format like T20 which is so short and explosive. When players get in and get on a roll and they’ve hit a few boundaries, [they’ve got] to try and make sure that they get big scores.
As a player, what is the most important thing you get out of this tournament? It’s always a great opportunity to play in high profile tournaments. You obviously want to get as much exposure as you can, and try and get your name out there as it were. Something like this, which is on an international stage, gives you an opportunity to showcase your talent where a lot of people can stand up and take notice. I always [refer] to our captain of the Tuks cricket side two years ago, Theunis de Bruyne, who has now just been made captain of the Knights. Two years ago [he] was playing in this tournament with us. He was player of the tournament and off the back of that got an opportunity to showcase his talent at the Titans, and was subsequently signed for them a few months later. I think also the fact that, as any young person, you get the opportunity to go overseas, travel a bit [and] see a bit of the world, and that is invaluable. So it’s a massive opportunity for us and we’re all excited to go.