UFH - Cricket - Captain - Wanga Mgculo (FSC)

The emergence of two batting talents at this year’s USSAs has delighted University of Fort Hare cricket captain Wanga Mgculo ahead of the new year.

Oyintanda Konono and Nkosi-Nathi Heshula, who averaged 30 and 25 respectively in the 50-over tournament, proved to be a rock in the middle-order despite making their debut at the annual university showpiece.

Mgculo said with long tertiary careers still ahead of them, the future of the team looked bright.

“Both of them batted really well,” he said.

“As the new boys, we didn’t think they would do so well because it was their first USSAs and they could have been nervous. But they impressed us.”

The skipper praised the manner in which the youngsters had approached their matches in Cape Town, motivating their teammates and urging them to show fight at the crease.

Heshula scored his 103 tournament runs at a strike rate a touch under 60.

While Konono was slower, striking at 42.86 per 100 balls, his solid contributions with the willow were instrumental in his team’s victories.

UFH - Cricket - Captain - Wanga Mgculo (FSC)

Fort Hare’s Thabang Sqoko put in a great performance against Rhodes University, claiming four scalps in the demolition job. Photo: Full Stop Communications

Heshula, who captained Hudson Park High in East London before moving on to UFH, said the USSAs had been a lot more competitive than what he had encountered at school level.

“You’ve got people who are semi-professional and have been playing the game for a long time. It’s the real world. It’s a good competition,” he said.

He had no issue in taking on a motivational role within the team as it was something he had never shied away from.

The 19-year-old said despite being an opener at school he was happy to slot into the middle order, batting anywhere from three to five.

It was a mixed bag of results for Fort Hare at this year’s tournament.

They were pleased to do the “double” over Eastern Cape rivals Rhodes University.

In a low-scoring affair in the first of their two matches against the Makhanda students, they snuck home by four runs.

Despite only posting 86, they shot out Rhodes for 82 with Thobela Mgobizi the destroyer-in-chief (4/13).

In the second game the UFH batting unit clicked to put 245 for 5 on the board before bundling out Rhodes for 60. On this occasion Thabang Sqoko (4/43) and Sesethu Mayase (3/37) did the damage.

Unfortunately, they were unable to get going with the bat in their matches against Nelson Mandela University and Central University of Technology, against whom they lost by 82 and 181 runs respectively.

Mgculo said Fort Hare’s lack of game time this season had definitely not helped their cause.

The Alice area has experienced heavy rainfall this summer, giving the side few opportunities to practise out in the middle. They had also only played a handful of league matches before the tournament.

Mgculo believed that it would be a totally different story if they played more matches before the 2024 USSAs.

Gelling as a team was essential and that came through playing together as much as possible, he said.

Fort Hare will be back in action in the second week of January when they resume their Border Premier League campaign.