Birthday boys are simply best

United batsman Jason van Zyl launches his bat which saw him being caught out, while teammate Bevan Bennet looks on during a match against Bohemians at Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium. Bohs’ keeper is Camangu Mbangi.
United batsman Jason van Zyl launches his bat which saw him being caught out, while teammate Bevan Bennet looks on during a match against Bohemians at Buffalo Park Cricket Stadium. Bohs’ keeper is Camangu Mbangi.
Image: Alan Eason

It is set to be a celebration of epic proportions as United Cricket Club celebrates its 25th anniversary with the Community Cup T20 tournament being played at Alfred Schoeman Park and Police Park over the next three days.

United is one of the top clubs in East London today, and over its 25-year history it has picked up plenty of silverware since being established in 1992.

“In 1991, with the advent of unity in sport, black clubs were not deemed strong enough to compete with the ‘established’ clubs,” said LOC member Calvin Brown.

“Saints had to form a partnership with Villagers (Gonubie) CC, and United had to form a partnership with Hams CC, and Parkside played in the second division.

“These ‘partnerships’ were problematic and the Buffalo Flats community yearned for a club based in the township.

“This resulted in the amalgamation of the three clubs forming the current United CC.”

The club is currently participating in Border Cricket’s Premier league, where it has grown to become a force to be reckoned with.

It became the first black club to win the 50-over competition in the 1999-2000 season and has followed that success up five more times in 2002-03, 2004-05, 2011-12, 2013-14 and the last time in 2014-15.

They have then also claimed three T20 titles, picking up their first in 2012-13, second in 2014-15 and are the current defending champions going into the new season.

Some of the team’s most famous players over the years include current Proteas coach and former West Indies player Ottis Gibson and former Proteas quickie Charl Langeveldt.

Other noteworthy former and current star players include: Lwando Manase (SA U19, SA Schools), Laden Gamiet Jr (SA U19, Border), Burton de Wet (Warriors, SA U15, Border, NW, SWD), Bevan Bennett (Border, WP, National Academy), Ian Postman (Warriors, EP, SA U19, SA Universities), Rowan Richards (Titans, Warriors, Border, WP, Northerns, SA Universities, SA ‘A’), Thulani Ngxoweni (SA schools, SA U19, Border), Brent Kops (Warriors, EP, SA U19) and Romano Ramoo (Border, WP, Emerging Cobras, SA U19, SA schools).

This year’s team will be eager to honour the club by doing well in the T20 competition, taking place from Friday to Sunday.

“We are definitely looking forward to it. It is our 25th anniversary. We have a few of our old guys coming through to play, so it is going to be a wonderful occasion,” said United coach Brandon Williams.

“The festivities around our cricket is always good, especially with T20, so we are expecting a lively atmosphere, with good support and I think it is going to be a great weekend.

“I think it is perfect that we are able to have a tournament like this to celebrate 25 years of the club’s existence, and I think it is right that we have a festival like this with other teams who have links to the club to enjoy the occasion with us.”

The other teams taking part include Victoria (two teams) from Cape Town, Wanderers from Kimberley and fellow local sides Willows and Super Eagles.

The out-of-town competitors should provide an especially stiff test but, with T20 cricket, anything can happen, so it should be thrilling.

“Obviously we are looking to win. We aren’t just here to celebrate. The following weekend the league T20 competition starts, so we are looking to carry the momentum gained from this weekend into the start of the league season, and then hopefully we can take all that good momentum into the 50-overs competition when it starts,” said Williams.

“Everyone is fresh and ready. We have a very experienced side going into the tournament, guys who have been playing for quite some time, so that will stand us in good stead for the tournament.”

The action starts on Friday and will conclude on Sunday.

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