GARY Kirsten gave Magdalen College School a big thumbs-up when they hosted a special match this week.

The South African legend, who played 101 Test matches and 185 One Day Internationals, was in attendance when an under 13 side from his country took on the Oxford pupils.

The opening batsman has set up a scheme to give cricketers the chance to shine and joined them on their tour of England.

The Gary Kirsten Foundation is building a cricketing ecosystem in township areas of South Africa that lack the infrastructure, and is providing coaching for young players with potential.

The foundation has so far supplied five schools from Khayelitsha – a large township in Cape Town – with artificial nets, kit bags and equipment.

Full-time coaches have also been identified, trained and employed.

An under 13 side, none of whom had previously been abroad, made up the first overseas touring party.

“I wanted to give them the opportunity of a lifetime – to go on a tour to the UK,” said Kirsten.

“They will play cricket against top schools, meet their Protea heroes and attend matches at the biggest event of the sport that they love.”

After watching the South African team win their World Cup match against Afghanistan in Cardiff, the boys played against a Welsh team from St Fagans Club and won convincingly.

They then travelled to be hosted by Magdalen College, with the game ending in a thrilling tie.

Even though very few of the touring side spoke English, the city of Oxford made its mark on the team.

“Magdalen College School’s hospitality was exceptional and we are so grateful to the staff and boys for welcoming the team,” Kirsten said.

“Playing amongst the spires of Oxford is a unique experience for anyone, let alone these young boys from Cape Town.”