Fans will get a chance to get up close and personal with some of South Africa's greatest cricketers this weekend at the 2009 Sahara St Davids Twenty-20 Festival.
Proteas such as skipper Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini – as well as former stars such as Darryl Cullinan – will show off their prowess in the shorter form of the game for an All Stars XI playing against a Combined Schools' XI.
Atul Gupta, chairman and MD of Sahara Computers, says the company is delighted to once again be involved in the four-day festival.
"Sahara is convinced that this is a worthwhile social responsibility programme and we call on other big corporate houses to join us in this exciting and innovative venture," Gupta says. "The Sahara All Stars XI, which includes some of our finest cricketers like Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini, will compete against our young budding talent. Hopefully, some of these young cricketers will quickly graduate to join the Under-19 national team.
"Sahara wishes all the paricipants a wonderful time," Gupta adds. "It is our hope and aspiration that this festival will reinforce the noble qualities of unification and development, stimulating support for the game at all levels among the people of South Africa."
Proteas captain Graeme Smith, who missed last year's match through injury, is looking forward to this year's challenge.
"I have very fond memories of the various youth weeks and schools tournaments I played in during the formative years of my career and I have always been highly appreciative of the role they played in putting in place the foundations of my game," Smith says. "It is also a place where you make friendships that last for a lifetime and where you learn the key lessons of respecting the game, your teammates and your opponents at all times. Without that, you cannot enjoy the game and, if you don't enjoy yourself, then you can't reach your full potential.
"It will certainly evoke fond memories for me and some of my Proteas' colleagues to come back to play in this tournament and hoepfully some of our experiences will enrich our next generation of cricketers.
"Sahara and St Davids Marist Inanda are to be congratulated on this initiative which will both grow cricket and the lives of the participants," Smith says.
The match between the Sahara All Stars XI and the Combined Schools' XI gets underway at 1:00pm on Saturday.