Sport

A class above

By Patrick Tansey

Sometimes in sport, you witness a moment, a season, or a feat so remarkable it is scarcely believable.

You think of Leicester City winning the English Premier League, Adam Gilchrist racing to 100 runs from just 57 balls in the 2006-07 Ashes series,or Steven Bradbury claiming a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics against all odds.

In the quiet surrounds of Tocumwal Recreation Reserve on Saturday, a similarly jaw-dropping event went down in the Murray Valley Cricket Association.

While it will not capture global attention, it does not diminish the magnitude of it.

When Cobram Cricket Club’s South African import Wian Van Zyl, 23, strode to the crease to face the Tocumwal attack, he could never have envisaged what would happen next.

The opening batsmen clobbered the Tocumwal attack to every part of the ground imaginable to make an astonishing 274 not out from 163 deliveries.

The innings included an incredible 15 sixes and 25 fours, leaving the Tocumwal attack in a state of shock by the end of the demolition.

Once he got his eye in, Van Zyl played with a confidence and swagger which made him look as if he could bat for 10 hours without getting out.

He was simply a class above.

He played beautifully behind the wicket, cutting the attack to ribbons, while crunching everything short square of the wicket.

His class was thoroughly evident late in the innings, post 200 runs, when he smashed two cover drives straight back over the bowlers head for six.

His timing was impeccable throughout, and the sound coming off his bat was as pure as it gets.

The cleanness of his connection was something to behold.

So what did the man himself have to say about his epic knock? He claimed divine intervention played a part.

‘‘It was my highest ever score, I’m very thankful for it. I just want to say all praise to our lord up there because I know without him nothing’s possible,’’ Van Zyl said.

The batsmen said it was hard to describe the innings looking back on it, reflecting he was simply in the zone.

‘‘If you ask any batter, whether you’re hitting in the nets or out in the middle, if you hit the first ball in the middle and you cream it, you think it might be a good day and you just have to cash in on it,’’ he said.

Van Zyl has always been a naturally aggressive batsmen and his strategy certainly paid dividends against a hapless Tocumwal attack.

‘‘I like to attack the opening bowlers because it’s a hard ball and it flies a bit harder off the bat, from there, you just have to take it ball by ball,’’ he said.

The import said the club had been making inquiries to see if the score is the highest ever recorded in a one-day game by a Tigers player.

‘‘Hopefully it is and I can have a record of my own here,’’ Van Zyl said.

Cobram captain Adam De Cicco, who shared the end of the innings with Van Zyl, said it was categorically the best knock he had ever seen in local cricket.

‘‘I’ve never seen someone make 274 runs in a 45-over match. It was very dominant too, he pretty much took them on from ball one. I’ve never seen anything like it before,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s a very humble man, he didn’t say much after it but you could tell he was pretty proud. The kid just loves his cricket.’’