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Team Cricket complete BrightRock challenge

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Team Cricket has made an exceptional finish according to expedition leader Erik Vermeulen who has done the same challenge four times with all the competitors.

Team Cricket navigating the hills of Verneukpan during their turn to beat the clock in the charity drive challenge by various sports personalities. Picture: Supplied

THE CRICKET trio of former Proteas players Makhaya Ntini, Lance Klusener and Monde Zondeki was the last to complete the gruelling 200km BrightRock Battle of the Sports Endurance Challenge by circumnavigating Verneukpan in the heart of the Northern Cape on Monday.

The BrightRock Battle of the Sports Challenge has already tested the mettle of teams: Rugby, Running and Soccer, and it was now Team Cricket’s turn. “Team Cricket has made an exceptional finish,” said a tired expedition leader, Erik Vermeulen who has now done the same challenge four times with all the competitors.

“When we started former Proteas fast bowler Makhyay Ntini said: ‘We are not necessarily in it to win it but rather here to do it’ and that is exactly what they have done and then some,” Vermeulen said.

Commenting on his time in the pan, Ntini, said next to Mt Kilimanjaro, this was by far the hardest thing he has ever done.

Fun seemed to be a common theme mentioned by all three participants. “Yes it was tough,” said former batsman Lance Klusener, “but we never forgot to have fun. Erik advised us to spend as much time on our feet as possible and this really allowed us to make smarter decisions.

“The most difficult part was after the 90km mark where we encountered a lot of wind. We were dead tired and had to navigate both the cart (affectionately nicknamed Shimmy) and the corrugations in the road. We ended up just pushing through to get ahead of the clock,” Klusener said.

Monde Zondeki, the youngest participant of the three cricketers said he felt relief, joy and pride to cross the finish line.

With 800km under his belt, Vermeulen said the Pan has challenged each of the teams in different ways. Mental fatigue and sleep deprivation having been the two big factors.

“When you are used to spending 90 minutes or six-seven hours on the road in the case of the runners, walking 200km is a completely different experience. These are all world-class athletes but the experience has challenged even the toughest of these athletes, including myself.

“Our plea was for the country to support the Challenge with a small donation. So many vulnerable communities are still reeling from the effects of Covid-19, particularly old people, orphans and children in vulnerable urban and rural communities.

“These are the communities we are supporting,” said Events to Aid, CEO and founder of the event, Clive Grinaker. The entire programme will be managed independently and leading Covi orientated NGO; Right to Care headed by Professor Ian Sanne.

Grinaker said two big donations have been made to Thembalami Care Centre and the Itlhokomeleng Association for the Aged and Disabled in Alexandra, Gauteng.

The times of each of the teams who competed in the Challenge will be revealed on Friday, October 16.