On Saturday the 26th of May, Cambridge Cricket Club found themselves in all kinds of trouble at 52 for 3 against East Anglian Premier League rivals Bury St Edmunds. Michael Pepper, a 19 year old from Cambridge, was joined at the crease by his brother Chris and history was about to be made. After 52 overs, the scoreboard read 357 for 3 when the declaration came from the CCC captain with both Peppers reaching triple figures. Michael’s achievement however was remarkable, he had amassed 216 not out off just 145 balls with 31 boundaries in the partnership of 305.
Michael, who attended the Gary Kirsten Cricket High Performance Academy from early January this year has earned a summer contract with Essex and has been on upward trajectory since attending the academy in Cape Town for 3 months. These achievements may have come as a surprise to some but not to the coaches at the GKC HPA. “Michael’s ability to put bad balls away makes him a dangerous batsman and a difficult man to bowl to” stated Ryan Cook, Head Coach of the program, he continued, “The growth that Michael showed in his time at the academy pointed the needle to what he is capable of both on and off the field, he has immense potential and it is very satisfying that his hard work is paying dividends in performance”. Upon leaving the academy Michael reflected “The Gary Kirsten High Performance academy was an important mental shift for me. I learnt a lot about my own game, where my strengths are and when to play what shot at the right time.”
His rapid rise is just a start of things to come and Gary Kirsten’s comment on Michael is testimony to this, “Michael’s shift in the maturity of his game was great to witness, this was reflected in his both his batting and his lifestyle.”
This consistency has been reflected as the following weekend Michael scored 155 against Copdock and Old Ipswichian CC, which pushes his average to 93 for the season. When asked about his aspirations for season, he said,“I just want to keep scoring runs and secure a professional contract at the end of the year.”
Watch this space for more updates on the High performance Academy attendees and watch the players reflections here