Burbage & Easton Royal Cricket Club welcome their overseas player - Johnny RiekertIt was a very chilly start indeed for Burbage & Easton Royal Cricket Club's 2019 overseas player - South African semi-professional Johnny Riekert, a right-handed top-order batsman who bowls right arm medium pace.
He had left Durban's winter temperature of 26 degrees and sixteen hours after landing in the UK, he was shivering on the field for the club's first match of the season. He helped the team to victory over Trowbridge with 2-29 and 16 not out.
Johnny Riekert is 25 years old and played last season for the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Inland team ("A good bunch of lads”). For the previous two seasons he was with KZN Coastal.
These two KZN teams feed players up to the Hollywoodbets Dolphins - the senior franchise team that represents the KwaZulu-Natal province. He also plays club cricket with the Hollywoodbets Crusaders.
This is Johnny’s third summer in England. For the first two he was in Lancashire - home to professional league cricket. For the first summer he played with Euxton Cricket Club in the Ribblesdale League.
Then last year he was the overseas player with Church & Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club in the premier Lancashire League. For them he scored 679 league runs and took 41 wickets.
When marlborough.news met Johnny Riekert at the Burbage ground, the weather had perked up - the sun was warming the grass, the sky was blue and he had an evening of first team nets ahead of him.
Why come to Burbage & Easton Royal Cricket Club (BERCC)? "I'd been up in Lancashire twice and thought let's go and see the south!" And he adds that he really enjoys playing with the team.
In their second match of the season in the West of England Premier Cricket League's Prem 2 Glos/Wilts division, BERCC beat Frocester whose team included two county players (Chris Liddle and Uzi Qureshi). Riekert was BERCC's top scorer with 38 runs and took two wickets for nine runs.
Johnny Riekert is looking forward to his summer in Burbage and watching the World Cup on television - as the matches are, to his disappointment, sold out.
Next week he has to go up to London to sit a university exam. He has a year to go on his studies for a commerce degree at the University of South Africa: "If cricket doesn't work out, I'll fall back on that."
He will be returning to South Africa on September 1 - and his southern summer season starts in the middle of September.
This Sunday he wants to watch one of the club's junior teams on their second square - the Glebe Field. He is intrigued to find out how they play with the famous oak tree that covers one side of the pitch.
The following Saturday, May 25, Johnny Riekert will be be joining in as the club hosts their second annual Pink Day in aid of Breast Cancer UK and Prostate Cancer UK.
Last year they were raising funds for the Focus charity at Cheltenham & Gloucester Hospital in memory of their former club chairman, Marek Grabowski. They raised £1000 over the weekend.
The club bulletin explains: "The idea is simple, we add a touch of pink to our games of cricket over the weekend, by using pink stumps and wearing pink caps. We would also encourage anyone who comes to watch the game to wear as much pink as possible."
After that fundraising effort, the club will turn its attention to raising the £22,500 needed to level and re-seed the outfield of the main Red Lion Field. An 'ambitious' project they plan to complete this September - following their beer festival.