CAPE TOWN – Coaching the Wynberg Boys’ High First XI for 18 years is a South African record – and something Eric Lefson can be proud about.
It was his love for the sport that got him involved and what a record he built over the years.
He took charge in 2000 and 827 games later, had netted 654 wins (69 draws/ties).
Add in the 43 domestic tours and festivals, and one can only admire the man – who coached for free – for his dedication and ultimate drive to be the best in the land.
He was old-school in the way he coached his charges and they knew that nothing less than maximum effort and application would do.
Those who arrived at practice not looking the part would soon learn that the simple act of tucking in shirts mirrored their image of the game and that put an end to that.
Lefson once taught at the school.
And when he signed off last month, 24 had cracked a professional career at first-class level.
His best player, Richard Levi, played T20 for the Proteas.
The year before Lefson took the position, the team played 24 matches, and that included a tour to England.
Fast forward to 2017, and the boys will play a total of 47 times (they contested 64 matches in 2007).
Lefson, who attended 16 Cape Schools Cricket Weeks, would watch on from the sidelines as his charges went into battle and would not hesitate to bark instructions if things were headed south.
And when in such a position on the odd occasion, he would expect a fight-back as this would show just how mentally tough they were, and more often than not the desired result played out.
“I always believe that a player showing true grit under the cosh is one who I want in my corner,” said Lefson, “and I had many such players who showed me just that.
“It’s been a privilege to coach the first team for the past 18 years.
“In the end I had two goals when I went into coaching.
“One was to hope the players would love the game as much as I do and secondly to give the players as many opportunities to become the players they want to be. Hence the tours and trying to play at least 50 games a year. I believe you only get better by playing.
“There are a couple of things that I take great pride in. Firstly, the 100-cap board where we now have 32 names, I believe it’s the most of any school in the country.
“Secondly, how many of our boys go on and play club cricket?
“Over the past decade, no school has had more players represented in the various leagues. I really enjoy looking through the scorecards every Saturday night to see how the boys have done.
“It’s also great when some of the boys get their chance to play for Western Province or the Cobras or even South Africa.”
Lefson mentions the tour of Pakistan in 2006 as a career highlight.
The late Bob Woolmer was coach of Pakistan and his long-standing friendship with then-headmaster Keith Richardson paved the way for Wynberg to become the only school from outside the sub-continent to tour there.