At the heart of Oundle cricket lies the ever-popular and ever-present Merwe Genis. His commitment to nurturing young cricketers of all ages and ability has led to Merwe becoming somewhat of a cult figure in the town, represented by the strong sense of anticipation that greets his arrival every year at the start of the summer.
Merwe’s initial affiliation with Oundle originated in 1994 when he led a school cricket team from South Africa to play against Oundle. After a fantastic match between the two sides, decided in the last over, Merwe duly met with the heads of Oundle cricket, John Wake and Tony Howorth, and invited them to South Africa.
Oundle’s tour in 1995 proved to be the first of many as Merwe fostered an increasingly close relationship with Oundle school. Subsequently, in 1998 when a vacancy opened up for a cricket coach in Oundle, Merwe was the ideal man. ‘The rest is history,’ he said.
The majority of Merwe’s work involves coaching young cricketers, an aspect that he has always been particularly attracted to: ‘Coaching young cricketers is a way of life. The hard work during the week to prepare for the Saturday match. The nets and fielding practices. The expectation and eagerness to do well. The ups and downs. The excitement of a win and the disappointment of a loss. The camaraderie between players and coaches. Nothing can beat it!’
In terms of essential advice Merwe encourages young players to listen to their coaches, maintain a positive attitude, never give up and above all to enjoy the game.
Merwe of course spends the English winter in his native South Africa and subsequently has direct experience of the relative importance of the game in the two respective countries. In South Africa school cricket is of more importance due to the strong sense of rivalry and competition. The club culture is however not as strong, as many school cricketers do not continue to play after they have left. In contrast, club cricket lies at the heart of the overall popularity of the sport in England.
With regard to his future plans Merwe has recently taken up a new role as head of cricket at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, and in turn still foresees further years working in Oundle.
‘I still love to coach in Oundle, and look forward to continuing my role under the new master in charge, John Crawley, and at Oundle town cricket club.’
By Thomas Lambton – 11 May 2016