In 1998, the Rollers played in the World Golden Oldies cricket festival which was held in Cape Town. Three matches were played against teams from Matabeleland Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Australia.
The first game was against the Kiwis, who performed the ‘Haka’. We had no response, but thrashed them on the field of play, with Nico ‘Slang’ Rheeder scoring a 50.
Next was the Australians. They played the game hard, with their opening batsmen wearing ‘Green Baggies’, so we suspected they had played a pretty high standard of cricket in their youth. Needless to say, these batsmen cut and pulled their way to 50s, being especially hard on our opening attack of Graham Ward and Dave Hillman. Nico Rheeder rose to the occasion by scoring another 50, but ran out of batting partners as the Rollers fell short in the run chase.
The final match was against the Matabeland Province of Zimbabwe, who arrived hungover and needed to borrow some players to make up their side, which we obliged. The match was a low scoring affair, resulting in Nico Rheeder once again scoring a 50 to lead the Rollers to victory.
Twelve years later the fifth World Vintage Cricket Festival was played in Cape Town. The Rollers have continued to be a force to be reckoned within the Friendly Cricket circles of Cape Town and its surrounds, so it was a given that we would enter a side of over-35s into the competition.
In the squad of 14 players there was still two from the 1998 team, Nico Rheeder and Dave Hillman, though Dave was later ruled out after a leg injury after a motorcycle accident. True to form, he showed up as a upporter at the games.
The Rollers were drawn against the Sussex Oldies from England, Shropshire over-50s, also from England, and a team from Western Australia, The Western Australian Masters.
The Rollers team had some very good cricketers in their ranks – Bradley Player and Jacques Wahl were ex-SA Provincial level, and the balance had all been Premier League regulars in their youth.
First up was Sussex, and the Rollers scored 201/5, with Neville Cooper top-scoring with 45*, Jacques Wahl 42*, Brad Player 35* and Grant Whitburn 26*. The most successful bowler for Sussex was in fact a Roller; Jacques Laubscher bowled his offies to take 3/24 in 6 overs, having been lent to them as they were short of a player.
In reply, Sussex started well, with both of their openers scoring 35*, but used up the majority of the limited overs and they fell short in the run chase, ending on 123/5. Brad Player was the pick of the bowlers with 2/9 off 6 overs, ably assisted by Nico Rheeder with 2/22, also off 6 overs.
The second match against the WA Masters nearly did not take place as our venue had been waterlogged by the sprinklers being operated by the Brackenfell Club groundsman. Quick organising by Jacques Laubscher and Jaco Oberholzer succeeded in hiring a field at the Bellville Cricket Club and the game was moved in time.
Australia batted first and could not get the tight bowling away for runs very easily – only their opening batsman B. Reid scored a useful 38 as they ended their innings at 128/9. The pick of the bowlers for the Rollers was Jakes Oberholzer with 2/6, Casper Carlson with 2/9 and Grant Whitburn with 2/14.
The Rollers reached the winning score with Dave van der Walt leading the run chase with a fine 34* and Brad Player with a quickfire 31 before being stumped charging down the wicket.
The final game was played against the Shropshire over-50s from England, who were very proud of the fact that they are the biggest County in England. Shropshire batted first and toiled to reach 90 all out, with four wickets falling on 86.
The Rollers attack was disciplined and accurate, with Jacques Wahl’s left-arm spin netting him 3/19 and Skipper Jakes Oberholzer 3/17. Mark da Silva removed the opening pair in his 2/20 spell.
The Rollers sent out Nods Marais, who had travelled to SA from England to be a part of the team, with Casper Carlson. Casper went for 7 and Nods followed shortly after for 11. Neville Cooper top-scored with a well-constructed 35* as we cruised to 93/4 and a good win in 20 overs.
Congratulations to the team led by Jaco Oberholzer for the three straight victories and the spirit in which the games were played, despite the upheaval of losing our first venue two days before the first game and the water-logged field on the morning of the second day.
As hosts, the Rollers excelled after the games with Vuvuzela down-downs, good food and bitterly cold beers that really epitomised the word ‘Festival’. Our guest teams gave the Rollers a thumbs-up for fun and entertainment to the organisers, so wait for more invites to the overseas Festivals every two years.
I would like to thank everyone who played a part in fund-raising, organising and representing our ‘Brotherhood’ … you made us proud. A special thanks to Katharine Oberholzer for being involved in arranging the food at Durbanville at short notice.
Now let us see some of the Vintage squad turning out for the Rollers in next season’s matches – see you there.