Much like the touring dance group best known for their bare torsos and bow ties, Joshua Chippendale, 20, from Hanover Park, loves to put up a show.
But instead of busting a move on the dance floor, this Chippendale prefers hitting balls straight out the park. Chippy as he’s known among friends, has been in fine form with bat in hand in his first proper season at Strandfontein Cricket Club and was duly named top batsman-of-the-year at the club’s presentation, at Newlands Stadium, last week.
His award follows hot on the news that he’s signed a high performance contract with the Eastern Cape-based Warriors.
“Signing for the Warriors was beyond my end of year goal. I was working towards getting in the colts set up by the end of the season but it just shows that God’s plans are different to ours. I just kept doing what I did and it paid off,” he said.
It certainly paid off handsomely: 760 runs with an average of 51 for Strandfontein and 1 601 runs in total, which includes two centuries – one against Primrose, the other against Milnerton – and five 50s.
Enough to make people take notice. It certainly made an impression on Strandfontein head coach Kevin Heuvel who contacted Warriors coach Robin Petersen to have a look at him.
“I was doing so well throughout the season that coach Kevin actually told Robin Petersen about me,” said Chippendale, who was also among the star players in the Cape Premier League (CPL), a private league that hosts the best local players from junior to senior players across the province.
“So when the time came, I flew down just for a week. I trained with them and played an inter-squad game where I thought I would bat at 5, but I actually opened. I just applied myself and next thing I knew I scored a 100. Being in that intensity and environment was an eye opener but I told myself I can actually be in this environment,” he said.
“So the CPL had just started on the Friday and I scored 92 not out the first game and then a 100 out the evening game. The next morning my body was too sore and I was drained so I wasn’t my usual self. On Saturday we played Primrose Cricket Club and I just stayed at the crease for as long as I could. My legs were stiff and I was very uncomfortable but I pushed and managed to score a 100 against them and we actually won that game.”
Regarding his second century, against Milnerton, he said: “They managed to post a score of 220. We never chased a score this big before so it was going to be a good chase. In the end I ended up on 120 not out with my skipper with an 80 not out. We actually managed to have a 200 run partnership which was unbelievable and we won.”
Heuvel never had any doubt about the young man’s ability to play in the big leagues. “The first time I came across Chippy was about six to seven years ago at a Basil d’Oliveira tournament where he smashed every team all over the park and received batsman of the tournament. Over the the last three years have we started working together on specific skill sets and started to work to achieve certain goals in his young cricket career,” said Heuvel, a well-known bat-maker based in Wetton.
“I played with a few good players in my past. I rate him highly because he can play all three formats, has the technique to bat long periods of time, has the power and the smartness in the shorter format and is very consistent as a batter. We know all it takes is one ball to get you out,” he jokingly said.
“Besides batting, he loves to learn about the game. He is 20, but has an old soul. He is very humble as well, always willing to help his next teammate, he would play a colts or academy game for WP and after the game he comes to throw balls to his teammates at club training. It shows his character and that’s why he’s so blessed.”
Strandfontein chairman Jemaine Cloete met the star batter while managing the CPL outfit Chippendale was drafted into.
Cloete shares Heuvel’s sentiments, saying, “He is a highly talented batsmen, brave and aggressive. He works incredibly hard on his game, working 24 seven trying to improve. Joshua’s name was on everyone’s lips throughout the season. His hard work has opened up exciting doors and we wish him well on his journey.”
An avid soccer fan with spells at Vasco and Wynberg St John’s, Chippendale was introduced to the game while at primary school.
For a while, he says, he played as an all-rounder of sorts but settled on batting once he discovered his true purpose on the pitch: to pile on the runs.
Prior to joining Strandfontein, he spent time at St Augustine’s in Elfindale and later Claremont Cricket Club.
Coming through the ranks hasn’t always been easy, he said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of cricketers that can relate. Throughout my junior career I would score runs during the Western Province trial games but was never picked. I always wondered why the boys’ school players come only at the third or fourth week of the trials but that didn’t phase me. It actually gave me motivation to show them who I am. So eventually I made it in my last year. I made the under-19B squad and again it showed God’s time, not mine. But it wasn’t over. After that I was in the system for two years and only this year I was brought back when Roger Telemachus wanted to have a look at me by the colts. Played a few games there and I really enjoyed it. He gave me some good knowledge and feedback when we spent time together and got to know each other a little bit more.”
Off the field, it hasn’t been easy either, as growing up in a tough neighbourhood brings its own set of challenges. The recent flare up of gang violence in the area has him worried. “It’s scary that one situation can spark an entire war. Like In the past week I was sleeping and around 7.20am I got woken up by gun shots that were close to my house. But what plays on my mind the most is that there’s children and people that go through a daily situation far worse than what I go through. I realise they can shoot at any time which is a bit dangerous but this is part of my life and my story,” he said.
“It affects me in a way where I have to be more cautious because anything can happen any time. I stay indoors the majority of the time I’m at home. But I’ve stayed here for years and I’m so used to hearing gunshots now that I don’t really get scared.”