On 27 April, after five days of exhilarating cricket, the Assupol TuksCricket team was crowned the Momentum National Club Champions premier cricketing side as they retained their title of champions for a consecutive year. The UP side cruised to victories over Crusaders, NWU Pukke, Wellington, Yorkshire and Fort Hare on their way to being crowned champions. Although it was a team effort and every member of the squad put in a performance when the team needed them to do so that ultimately lead to success, Neil Brand was undoubtedly the brightest shining star as he earned himself the player of the tournament award.

Brand has all-round ability which allows him to contribute with both bat and ball. The left-handed batsman said his “batting strength is definitely stronger at the moment”. Brand described the past six months as “a bit of a roller-coaster” as only a few months ago, he was in England hoping to get into Glamorgan’s 2nd XI in county division two cricket. However, due to visa issues, he was forced to return to South Africa in November.

England’s loss was Assupol TuksCricket’s gain as head coach Kruger van Wyk gave Neil Brand the opportunity to join the UP ranks in January, an opportunity Brand has taken with both hands. Brand aims to succeed in South African cricket and said, “At the moment, I definitely won’t go back overseas”. He added that he has goals of following in the footsteps of AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Aidan Markram, and Lungi Ngidi who all represented UP before going on to represent the Multiply Titans and eventually the Proteas.

Brand said that Varsity Cricket is a great platform for young cricketers to showcase their talent and highlighted the work of the coaches and management saying, “The coaches have been on a different level to anything else I’ve experienced”. With a two month break coming up after a successful season for Assupol TuksCricket, Brand hopes to use the tools provided to him to take his game to the next level.

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