Knysna Villagers
Sport at Backward Point, Knysna

Knysna Villagers Cricket

The Village Cricket concept is the latest addition to our program of Sports Festivals and is aimed at cricketers of all ages. It targets those who wish to play socially and yet with a measure of formality and forms a part of the 12 sports festivals we host annually.

Our annual program consists of three cricket festivals, catering for the under 11, under 13 and under15 age groups, as well as boys hockey, girls hockey, netball, 7’s rugby, tennis and soccer events.

To ensure the success of this program, we found it essential to have our own facilities and as a result we set about finding a suitable venue to rent and on which to establish our own playing fields. This we did and in 2012 the first of three fields was completed.

The tree-lined pasture in question, somewhat reminiscent of the English ‘country-side’, prompted the idea of playing ‘village sport’, and subsequently the concept of Village Cricket.

Naming the field:
The fields are named after Robin Abbott, in recognition of his life-time contribution to junior cricket. It was our long-standing association with and our mutual interest in coaching and belief in the traditional values and ethos of playing the game, which prompted us to honour him. An informal ceremony to commemorate the occasion was held on the pitch on Sunday 14 October 2012, the day of our inaugural match. In March 2013, the C field was opened for junior matches and in September that year, the B field was completed.

The Village Cricket concept:
To provide cricket for those, who by their participation, would like to make a contribution to entrenching old-fashioned and traditional values of cricket, played in an impeccable sporting spirit, where the way in which the game is played, is deemed to be more important than the outcome of the contest!

Four teams play in a round robin series of matches, with fixtures taking place during the summer months of October, November, December, January and February.

In true ‘village spirit’, players of all ages and standards of play take part, while always bearing in mind that:
  1. Stronger players are required to use their discretion as to their influence on any match, and in particular, their influence on the wellbeing of any other player.
  2. In essence, the league is aimed at the retired player and those less competitive, while never precluding others.
Participating teams are from the communities of Rheenendal, Sedgefield, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.

In the event of an incoming or outgoing tour, or other match arranged in the region, players from all four ‘Villages’ are informed of the fixture and invited to play. These teams are known as the ‘Knysna Villagers’

A group of cricketing friends, most of whom have supported our sporting endeavours during our twenty year time at the Knysna Sport School, have watched with keen interest, and provided much encouragement over all these years.

Today they form the backbone of our un-official ‘Umpires Association’.

Robin Abbott:
While an accomplished cricketer in his day, it is as an administrator, coach and umpire that Robin has risen above the rest. Through his remarkable achievements as a dedicated, talented and caring teacher, he has had a profound impact on the lives of so many budding young sportsmen.

As Secretary of East London Schools from 1969 to 1971, he went on to be President of Border Primary Schools Cricket and served on the National Council and the Executive Committee of the S.A. Primary Schools Cricket Association.

As an Umpire he was 'A Certificated' in the Border and stood in Provincial matches in the 'Bowl Division', and officiated in two finals of the S.A. Country Districts Tournaments.

He is a collector of books, literature and all printed material on South African Cricket, and has in excess of 2000 titles in his private collection: reputed to be the most comprehensive in the country!

John Knowles:
John is one of that rare breed of individual with an aptitude and love for organizing. He has an impressive general knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, including sport, and he makes for an ideal ‘team man’.

As a typical ‘swallow’, he has moved from the UK and spends most of each year here in Knysna pursuing a number of sport-related interests. He is an avid umpire and keen follower and supporter of our sporting ventures at Sport at Backward Point.

A village cricketer in Warwickshire and Cumbria in his younger days, he reckons ‘the older he gets, the better he used to be!’

John Humphrey:
John emigrated from England in 2005, and how fortunate we have been that he chose Knysna to make his home. A competent opening bat and wicket-keeper, he played for his last Club in England for 21 consecutive seasons, before retiring just before his 60th birthday.

In 1989 while still actively playing, he applied for, and was granted a place on an official county umpiring course, qualifying the following year. He then gained experience in the lower leagues and was subsequently appointed to the County Premier League in 1994.

Tony Walker:
Tony joined the E.P. Umpires Association, just about the same time as colleague-to-be Rudi Koertzen. During the next 3 years he and Rudi progressed through the ranks, to become fully qualified for the Country Districts B Section and subsequently A Section fixtures.

In 1982 he became Secretary of the Eastern Province Umpires Association, initially with Farley Payne as Chairman and later with Brian Basson, with whom he became Delegate to the South African Umpire’s Council.

In 1986 he was nominated by the E.P. Cricket board to become a member of the 8 member S.A. A Panel, to handle A Section games as well as International fixtures. However, with a growing family commitment and promising business career, he made the toughest of decisions in declining the nomination.

He subsequently moved to Knysna, initially standing in the SWD League and thereafter assisting Keith Cretchley with his Sports School matches for both junior and adult fixtures, against teams from South Africa and abroad.

Latterly he has taken a keen interest in the development of the Abbottsfield complex and the well-being of the Knysna Village Cricket League.

Progress to date:
In the first season of 2012/13, a total of 24 fixtures were played, including those against touring sides from St Andrews College (SA), Eltham College (UK), Mumbai Ambassadors (India) and the Elgin CC (SA).

In 2013/14, twenty matches took place including Elgin CC, who visited once again, two fixtures against long-standing friends from Bancroft School (UK), the Hermanus CC and yet another two special matches against the official Australian Over 60’s X1.

The 2014/15 season was an extremely busy one, with our preparation for the World Golden Oldies event staged in Cape Town.

Our own program of fixtures provided twenty-one matches, most of them on our three pitches at Abbottsfield. During this season, visiting teams came from Philadelphia (USA), St Andrews College and Rhodes University from Grahamstown, and once again, our friends from Elgin.

Joining us for a two-match visit, were the Lords Taverners from Newcastle in Australia. They too, were on their way to the World Golden Oldies Festival in Cape Town, and the exercise proved an invaluable warm-up for both teams.

The Golden Oldies in Cape Town.....
52 teams from all corners of the world took part

The experience of being part of such an extensive event was indeed a highlight for all who were able to attend and very pleasing in that we were able to field such a great side to take part. While all eleven players contributed to the success of the team, we will surely be forgiven for mentioning the names of those that made significant contributions.

Umpires Robin Abbott and John Knowles did not put ‘a finger wrong’ in their stalwart efforts in the middle and always provided an official feel to the matches.

Our two ‘touring Captains’ excelled both on and off the field and were an inspiration to us mere mortals in the side. Iain Butchart, an ex-Zimbabwean International was an astute and popular skipper.

Ralph Koster shared the skippering duties and is a character of note, and having played provincial cricket for Western Province and Griquas, he and ‘Butchy’ were a formidable combination, guiding us to an unbeaten 3-match tour.

Other characters who made contributions of note were Ola Grinaker, who was always a laugh-a-minute and who kindly provided the stunning accommodation at Bakoven – and Louis Theron, coming into the side to make up the numbers and proving to be an outstanding team man and man-of-the-match for his humble and dedicated approach to all in the team and those opposing us.

It was a great team effort and thanks to all who made the trip...many happy memories will linger!

Program for 2015/16:
Fifteen internal matches have been confirmed so far, excluding the latest addition of our own ‘Village Cricket Festival’ to be held in March 2016.

Invitations are being extended to like-minded cricketers and their Clubs in South Africa and abroad and we hope to have between ten and sixteen teams take part over the four days of the Festival!

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