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Some trial but no error in this camp

Some 15-16 years ago, when Neil McKenzie was offered the job of a rugby coach, he tried to coach a 17-year-old lad who became a cricketer instead. The man is none other than South Africa Test skipper Graeme Smith.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2013 00:45 IST
Khurram Habib

Some 15-16 years ago, when Neil McKenzie was not yet an international cricketer, he was offered the job of a rugby coach at his alma mater, King Edwards the Seventh school, popularly known here as KES.

"I bumped into this big 17-year-old lad and started coaching him rugby. You can imagine, the way I coached him, he ended up becoming a cricketer instead," McKenzie says jokingly and with some modesty.

The man McKenzie is talking about is none other than South Africa Test skipper Graeme Smith, who was also a decent rugby player at the start but switched to cricket. Jonty Rhodes is another versatile sportsman, having played rugby and hockey.

Smith, always an integral part of the South Africa think tank, lost his One-day International spot at the top of the batting order to Quinton de Kock, many years his junior from the same school.

"It is one of the strongest sports schools around in the country. Quinton's inclusion makes all of us proud and continues the tradition," says Ryan Cook, who coaches cricket there and whose younger brother, Stephen is the vice-captain of the local franchise, Highveld Lions. Geoff Toyana, the Lions coach, though not from there, too agrees.

While there are many sports, 14 in all, cricket, rugby, soccer and even golf have produced the biggest stars, and it seems the school takes a lot more pride in its sports than even probably academics.

A look at the honours list gives you an idea - golfing great Gary Player, cricketers Ali Bacher, Ray Jennings, Smith, McKenzie and Quinton de Kock among others and a host of national soccer and rugby stars have come out of this educational institution