Avendale out to start off where they left off – on a winning note

Avendale Cricket Clubs Aqib Benjamin, from Bonteheuwel, has been in fine form in the WPCA Reserve League B two-day format, taking five wickets for 96 runs in three matches this season.

Avendale Cricket Club will hope to resume the season on a winning note, following an inspired performance by Aqib Benjamin, 21, in their seven-wicket victory over Green Point CC, in the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) Grand Challenge one-day cup final, in December.

Off-spinner Benjamin took 3/29 to help Avendale get their one-day campaign off to the perfect start.

Green Point were dismissed for 129 in 34.3 overs with Benjamin being the destroyer-in-chief, supported by Ronaldo Mayer who took 3/38.

Avendale chased down the total with ease (130/3), with captain Michael Swartz 57 not out.

Benjamin, from Bonteheuwel, said his performance was one of the best he had all season. In the two-day format, Benjamin plays for Avendale’s second team, and has been consistent with the ball.

He has bowled 10 maidens in 43 overs, conceding just 96 runs and taking five wickets, with his best figures being 3/22 against neighbours Primrose.

Avendale’s second team are currently unbeaten and top of the log in the WPCA Reserve League B two-day format.

“I am satisfied with my performances across all formats, and hope to remain consistent when the season re-starts, at the weekend,” said Benjamin.

The former Silverlea Primary School pupil made his first team debut at the age of 16 for Avendale.

“I was smashed to all parts of the ground by Helderberg batsmen. But one of my mentors, Rushdie Salie, told me that I must never give up and I have a role to play with the bat. Rushdie and I were together for more than a session, hoping to play for a draw, but I was run out,” said Benjamin, who admires former South African spin bowler Johan Botha.

“Just like Johan I had to remodel my bowling action because I was no-balled for bending my arm. He inspired me to continue through my rehabilitation, that I could still make a comeback and play for the first team again,” he said.

First team captain Michael Swarts said his players performed well against Green Point, especially his bowlers who kept on applying pressure.

“This is a great start to the one-day campaign. This will help us in terms of moving forward because we have Claremont in our next-encounter, on Saturday.

They will be a good test and hopefully we can maintain our standards,” he said.

Avendale has had an inconsistent start to the WPCA division 1A (first team) two-day format, having won and lost two. They got their campaign off with a bang, beating Edgemead by 144 runs and following that up with a 100-run victory against UCT.

Avendale then lost by 10 wickets against Victoria and United in their last two, two-day format matches 2016.

They will kickstart their two-day format against Milnerton CC on January 21.

Swarts said anything is still possible in the league and hopes his side can start the second half of the season on a positive note.

“There have been some good signs with bat and ball but there’s always room for improvement. It’s been a tough first half so hopefully we will learn from our mistakes to make the second half easier. The main goal is to make the semi-finals of the one-day and make the top three of the two-day format,” he said.