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Tim Van Noort -- former South African Indoor Cricket World Cup Captain
ICW: Okay Tim, where did your involvement with Cricket begin?
I have always been a very keen cricketer, playing since the age of about 4. I must say however that nothing could prepare me for my first encounter with Indoor Cricket in Johannesburg in 1991. I was introduced to Indoor Cricket by my big brother who invited me to come down and have a beer and watch his D Grade team at a place called "Action Cricket". They were short of a player and the rest as they say is history. As I'm sure is the case with many indoor cricket fanatics around the world, our local centre became a home away from home.
ICW: Any involvement other than just as a player?
Yes, definitely-I became an umpire in 1992 and then a centre manager in 1996. From then on I pretty much worked, played and lived the sport! Some might say a bit sad, but I have no regrets whatsoever as the sport became an adrenalin rush for me. Prowling around in that net is a great feeling!
ICW: Indeed it is-for those who haven't tried it, we recommend it highly. But back to you Tim: when did your career as an International indoor cricketer begin?
I was first selected for South Africa in 1994 to tour Australia to play against Australia and England in a Tri-Nations Series. During that tour I closed the batting with a certain Andrew Hall. The late Tertius Bosch was also selected to tour, but had to withdraw due to work commitments.
ICW: So what was your first International experience like?
It was an eye opener! We managed to scrape together a couple of victories in the warm up games, but I must say in general we had to put most of the tour down to "experience". We did however manage to tie with England 104 - 104 which was the first test that South Africa had not lost.
ICW: South Africa has certainly come a long way since then. You would have been playing for South Africa as that improvement occurred.
That's right, I was. Following the tour of Australia, I was then fortunate enough to play in the first three World Cups for South Africa between 1995 and 2000, which took place in England, Australia and South Africa respectively. In the last of these (in South Africa), we came within a run of beating Australia in the game that decided who would play in the Grand Final. We had come a long way from that first tour!
ICW: what do you think contributed most to South Africa's improvement over those 4 or 5 years?
I think I will start by saying that we did improve but not to a stage where we could get close to the aussies on a consistent basis. They hammered us earlier in that tournament! On the positive side I think it was self belief and the exposure to regular international competitions that helped players develop and therefore the teams' confidence grew. New ideas were always being brought back from tours and tournaments. I suppose we did have some sort of base to work around with youth being mixed with experience. Along with myself players such as Shaun Schaper, Bruce Forbes, Theo Blake, Steve Morris, Grant Wilson, Dawie & Simeon Muller, Hassan Pangarker and Broadley Marais formed a pretty solid base of experience on a number of the tours. So I suppose an element of consistency was introduced into the team over these years.
ICW: What are the highlights of those years?
Looking back I would say the three highlights were our first ever victory in a test against England in 1995 (144 - 118), captaining South Africa to within 1 run (67 - 66) of beating Australia in that World Cup game in South Africa in 2000, and player of the tournament in our 3-0 win over New Zealand in 1996 in South Africa. The 1 run loss against Australia would have been much sweeter had we won and played in the World Cup Final against New Zealand, but it was one of the best games of Indoor Cricket I have ever participated in!
ICW: I was on the phone to some of the English lads during the last over of that game, waiting to publish the results on the webpage, and I do recall there was quite a bit of noise and excitement at the time. What are your memories of that game?
It is a bit of a blur to be honest. I was sort of thrown into the captaincy before the game - not that I minded, but captaining adds a whole new dimension to any sport. I do remember digging out a very fast Yorker from Corey Otto and almost landing on my face, and having a very sore throat afterwards due to trying to gee the boys up (mostly in very bad Afrikaans)! To be honest I don't remember the crowd too much as I was very focused, but I do remember a lot of crowding around the 3rd umpire on tv replays, which bothered me a bit. The crowd that was there was great but I think ticket prices were quite high if I am not mistaken, and I believe we could have and should have packed the MTN Sundome out for those games! We had brilliant capacity crowds for the prelim games at the centres, and perhaps us losing a couple of games by a few runs drove the crowds away for the finals - but I hope not!
Indoor Cricket World's interview with Tim van Noort continues in Part 2, in which Tim talks about the life of an International indoor cricketer; more career highlights; the overall future of the sport, and some views on how the game and players have developed in South Africa. .