Photo Credit: Twitter Photo of @OfficialCSA
AB de Villiers said he was proud to have been part of the inaugural 3TeamCricket Solidarity Cup match, presented by Rain, that raised a total of R3-million for charity when it was played out at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Saturday.
R2,5 million will go to the Hardship Fund, a joint Cricket South Africa (CSA) project aimed at providing relief to those within the cricket industry affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. R500 000 will be split among the charities that were identified by the captains ahead of the match.
The innovative new format – one that saw three teams play each other in the same cricket match for the first time – marked a return to live sport in South Africa for the first time since March when COVID-19 lockdown began.
The match was won by De Villiers’ Takealot Eagles.
“There were obviously more important things out there, getting out and playing, doing it for solidarity in South Africa and showing that we can stick together as a nation,” the electrifying batsman stated. “That to me was what it was ultimately all about. What does make me the happiest is the funds we raised, that is the cherry on the cake.”
The 36-year-old struck an explosive 61 off 24 balls and shared in a sizzling century stand with Player of the Match, Aiden Markram (70 off 33 balls) to help the Eagles amass 160/4 across the two halves of six overs each side faced.
That put them 22 runs clear of the 138/3 posted by silver medallists Mr D Food Kites and 47 ahead of the OUTsurance Kingfishers (113/5), the team that ended with bronze.
“We had a lot of fun out there, there were lots of runs, catches and wickets,” De Villiers said. “It was quick, fast and fun, which is exactly what I expected of the format, and that is what we got.”
Photo Credit: Twitter profile picture of @ABdeVilliers17
As for his own form, as one of the world’s leading batsmen, he conceded that he surprised himself by the way he played.
“I had a few nets leading up to this game, so I wasn’t completely cold,” he explained. “I was just trying to stick to the basics and see the ball out of the bowlers’ hand.
“So I was quite surprised that a couple came out of the middle. It was scratchy early on but once I got going it was like riding the bike again, which I missed so badly.”
De Villiers’ Kites counterpart, Temba Bavuma was also happy to be back out in the middle saying: “It was very fun to be back on the park, we have been locked up in our homes, so to be running around and seeing the guys again, that was great fun. Also being part of this new, novel format, it was quite interesting.”
He agreed that raising money for a noble cause during the current climate was a big part of the game.
“It wasn’t just about us as the professionals out there, but it was also about the causes that we were playing for,” he added. “So to be able to raise three million Rands, that will be very handy for the needy people out there and go a long way towards alleviating some of the struggles being experienced at the moment.”
Reeza Hendricks, who led the Kingfishers, concurred and added that that the game was more than just cricket.
“We have to look at the bigger picture and to be part of that is great,” he commented. “As for the game, it was great to be back. Guys were a bit rusty but it was good to be back playing for the first time in a very long while.
“We didn’t know too much about the format, we had that trial game run, but for us to be part of this was quite special.”
Apart from the fundraising efforts, the match that was played on Nelson Mandela International Day was also a platform used by players to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and to show their support for the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).
OUTsurance Kingfishers: Reeza Hendricks (captain), Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Faf du Plessis, Thando Ntini, Gerald Coetzee, Glenton Stuurman, Tabraiz Shamsi. Coach: Mignon du Preez.
Mr D Food Kites: Temba Bavuma (captain), Jon-Jon Smuts, David Miller, Dwaine Pretorius, Lutho Sipamla, Beuran Hendricks, Anrich Nortje, Ryan Rickelton. Coach: Wandile Gwavu.
Takealot Eagles: AB de Villiers (captain), Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Andile Phehlukwayo, Bjorn Fortuin, Junior Dala, Lungi Ngidi. Coach: Geoffrey Toyana.