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At Jacques Kallis Oval, Richard Levi has more trees than the legend

At Wynberg Boys’ High School in South Africa -- the school where Jacques Kallis, Richard Levi and many other South Africa cricket team players picked up the game -- a tree is planted each time a student scores a century for school, or when a bowler takes a seven-wicket plus haul.

cricket Updated: Jan 11, 2018 09:47 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
South Africa vs India,SA vs IND,Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis became Wynberg Boys’ High School’s most illustrious product and so the school named its scenic cricket ground after the South Africa cricket team legend.(HT Photo)

Located at the foot of the Table Mountain in a leafy suburb of the city, the Wynberg Boys’ High School is South Africa’s second oldest school but that is not why you are reading about it here. It is known as the school that produced South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis.

Then a ‘small boy who used to caress the ball to the boundaries’, Kallis went on to become the legend he is and so naturally the school decided its rather scenic ground after him. And at the Jacques Kallis Oval, the school has a rather unusual way of keeping track of records.

“A tree is planted for every hundred scored for school. Bowlers need to take seven wickets to get the same honour,” said Michael Engelbrecht, head of sport at the school since 2008, as he kept an eye on the home game against Noord Kaap.

Kallis has three trees with his name on a plaque and also a bench installed after he had scored a double century against India, in 2010, but guess who has the most number of trees to his name --- Richard Levi. Levi plundered 13 sixes while scoring 117 against New Zealand in 2012 .

The Jacques Kallis 200 bench at Wynberg Boys’ High School . (HT Photo)

It was the fastest T20 International ton theback then. In school he was always rated as a big star, famously hitting sixes that crashed into neighbours’ compound after comfortably clearing the road that winds past the ground. “Kallis has three trees but Levi has around 13-14 I think. Of course he was a destructive batsman but Levi also played more school matches than Kallis,” said Andrew Wylie, director of cricket at the school.

Levi went on to play provincial cricket before finally breaking into the Proteas but by then there were reports of alleged indiscipline which many feel may have not allowed him to build a good career after the kind of headstart he had got.

Wynberg though have more illustrious names in South African cricket. Allan Lamb who went on to play for England, Garth Le Roux and Charl Willoughby are some of the many names found on the team photos here. Wynberg, with more national knockout trophies than any other Western Province school, has to deal with a busy schools cricket calendar.

“We play a Cape cricket festival every January. Local league starts middle of January till March, again September till December,” said Engelbrecht. “We have no cricket during winter since that’s when rugby and football happen. Interestingly, Jacques visits for rugby more than cricket,” said Wylie.

First Published: Jan 11, 2018 09:39 IST