The Adelaide University Cricket Club first grade has qualified for the National T20 Championships for the first time in their illustrious history.
The competition, to be held in Adelaide on the 3rd and 4th of March, pits the top Premier Cricket teams from all of Australia against each other in a round robin tournament to determine the national champion in the T20 format.
Adelaide University qualified for the tournament through their victory in the SACA T20 competition – they remained undefeated through their minor round matches before a nail biting 17 run victory over East Torrens in the Grand Final ensured a famous T20 premiership for The Blacks.
That win is one of many impressive achievements of the side in season 2019/20- with two rounds to play in the two-day competition, they are top of the ladder, and performed exceptionally well in the 50 over competition before being narrowly defeated in the Grand Final.
The National T20 competition presents a unique opportunity to the side; the rare opportunity to showcase their talents on a wider stage and the chance to be crowned national champions. Wicketkeeper batsman Daniel Kerber says the prospect of competing with Australia’s best is highly appealing.
“It’s first time that the clubs been involved in this tournament so very excited, the boys are keen to put on a good show,” he says.
Adelaide Uni’s pool matches will be hosted at their home ground Park 12 and Kerber, who combines his playing commitments with running his own cricket equipment company Kerber Cricket, says playing in familiar surroundings is a definite advantage.
“Yeah definitely, definitely an advantage being in South Australia,” he says.
“We don’t get the luxury of travelling, but we know the ground, we know our conditions so it sets us up for a pretty good tournament I would have thought.”
The teams form in all formats of cricket this season has been irrepressible, and Kerber puts the phenomenal results to date down to familiarity within the side.
“Last year, there was a lot of changes to the team throughout the season. Another year on, everyone’s played that little bit more cricket and just that experience of playing together definitely has helped,” he says.
At different times during the SACA T20 competition, the side were fortunate to have the services of South Australian players Jake Weatherald, Nick Winter and William Bosisto, and have also had access to Redback Joe Mennie at different stages of the season.
At this stage their state cricket commitments means their availability is to be determined, but in highlighting the depth of their squad, Kerber says they can cover their loss should they not line up for the tournament.
“I’m confident that we will still be able to field a good side,” he says.
“I think the first round [of the state T20 competition] we didn’t have many of those guys anyway, we didn’t have Jake, Wints or Joe, so we are used to that.”
One player who has contributed strongly over the course of the season is Kerber’s older brother, Samuel. The left arm off spinner and batsman enjoyed a typically stellar SACA T20 competition, making 224 runs at the healthy average of 32, and taking 12 wickets at 14 apiece (the most of any University bowler) at the miserly economy of just 5.6 runs per over.
His impressive form has been evident across all formats in season 2019/20. He has scored five centuries in all competitions, breaking a 99-year-old club record for most first-grade centuries in a season in the process.
The younger Kerber says he is expecting more of the same from his brother on the national stage.
“Sammy’s going alright at the moment, I think his batting’s pretty good, solid, knows his game plan, batting in the top order, so hopefully more of the same during the championships,” he says.
Again emphasising the depth of the squad and the belief within it, the wicketkeeper batsman singled out several other players to keep an eye out for across the two days.
“Chris Beaty is probably one of our better white ball bowlers, what he does with the ball and his change ups, he’s a very experienced bowler in that area,” he says.
“Finishing off games, players like Cooper Luke or Kyle Brazell, they are pretty good at closing out, as is Ben Ellis, they’ve all done it at different times, so hopefully all of those guys can contribute.”
A modest Kerber, who last season kept wicket for the South Australian under 19 team, neglected to mention himself as key player, despite his outstanding batting form in the lead up to the tournament. In the SACA T20 competition, he made 196 runs at the excellent average of 39.2 and crucially the impressive strike rate of 124.8.
He says he is grateful for the chance at the top of the order, and feels his game is well suited to getting the teams batting innings off to a positive start.
“Yeah made the shift, got the opportunity [to open the batting] and I was fortunate enough to make back to back fifties on the same weekend, and really enjoyed that freedom,” he says.
“To be honest, I’ve been a little bit surprised at how well its gone, but it’s just about sticking to my plans and I welcome it… I’m hoping for more of the same [in the National T20 Competition].”
Kerber is bullish about the team’s chances in the competition and feels the sides attention to detail in preparation and in certain areas on matchday could prove a distinct and potentially decisive advantage.
“Our fielding is probably a highlight in itself. We probably save on average 10 runs per game which is massive in those sorts of games, it can be the difference between winning and losing,” he says.
“Our running between the wickets too is probably better than other team’s I’d have thought. That’s something that we’ve spoken about and something that we’ve nailed this season, I reckon.”
The club are hosting their three pool marches at Park 12, 2 on Tuesday the 3rd of February and one on Wednesday the 4th of February, before hopefully a finals appearance on the Wednesday afternoon at Karen Rolton Oval.
It would be great to see a large contingent of Adelaide University support to maximise the home ground advantage, as they push for more silverware in what has already been a highly successful season.