South Africa v Australia, Saturday 15th February 2014, 10.30am

0 - opening shot

I’m doing pretty well for cricket these days. India were here a few weeks ago and now it’s Australia’s turn. The first test at Supersport Park in Centurion wasn’t too far away from us and so Jen and I went along for the fourth day’s play.

For reasons that are too long for me to be bothered to explain we’d stayed at one of the hotels in the nearby Emperor’s Palace resort the previous night and had been to an Electric Light Orchestra gig. Really? Are they still going? Well, no, they aren‘t. This was a gig fronted by a fella who had previously sang with ELO2. ELO2? Yes, ELO2. They were an attempt by a few members of the original band to spin out their careers after Jeff Lynne had buggered off to the Traveling Wilburys and then the job of producing The Beatles Anthology in the mid-nineties.

So, to recap. We went to see a fella who had once sung with some people who had previously been in ELO. To make it even more confusing, a couple of the original ELO members are still dragging their ageing arses All Over The World in an alternative tour, albeit mainly cruise ships by the look of it.

The gig was fine though and the band ploughed through most of somebody else‘s hits in front of a crowd of between three and four thousand people. Swear down. Although I suspect quite a few  of those people thought they were watching the real ELO, whilst a large percentage of the remainder were on a Valentines dinner, bed and gig package and probably had little idea who the original ELO were. Still, I’m sure it must have been a bit of a buzz for a band who are due to play at a restaurant in Huddersfield next month.

I didn't notice any of these fellas.

I didn’t notice any of these fellas.

Next morning and it was time for the cricket. We got there half an hour or so before the start and for fifty rand we were able to park on some wasteland five minutes walk from the stadium. I hadn’t bothered buying tickets in advance, mainly because when we went to the recent India test, the ground was only around a tenth full. This time though, it was sold out. Bugger.

Nothing happening here.

Nothing happening here.

Luckily we got away with it as I was able to buy a couple of spares from a fella who only wanted the fifty rand cost of his parking for them. Result. Two test cricket tickets and parking for the not so grand total of a hundred rand. That’s less than six quid. I like living here, even if the music scene does leave something to be desired.

Our tickets were for the West Embankment, but you could walk all of the way around inside the ground and as the East Embankment was nearest we selected a spot on the grass there, close to the Castle Terrace bar.

It was filling up nicely even before the teams took to the field.

It was filling up nicely even before the teams took to the field.

Things were pretty desperate for South Africa with Australia resuming their second innings four hundred and seventy nine runs ahead and with seven wickets still in hand. I expected them to thrash the ball around and declare once they had batted for about an hour or when they got down to the tail, whichever came first.

In reality they scratched around for fifteen minutes adding just the two runs before Marsh got out, prompting Michael Clarke to call it a day. I doubt it was the scenario that he had in mind when he’d woken up that morning, but after sampling the conditions I presume he just thought  “Sod it, that lead will be enough“.

The declaration meant that it was time for the latest edition of the Mitchell Johnson Show and within his first two overs he had sent both South African openers back to the pavilion and had greeted Hashim Amla by clouting him on the head first ball.

Amla and his sore head.

Amla and his sore head.

The hosts managed to make it to lunchtime for the loss of just the one more wicket but it was difficult to see how they would extend the game into a fifth day. I went for a wander around the ground and once again regretted not having brought a few lamb chops to make use of the braai facilities. Next time.

Such a clever idea.

Such a clever idea.

After lunch, with the sun getting higher and the crowd on the East Embankment getting worse for wear, we moved around to the area in front of the executive boxes. We were able to take advantage of the shade and a bit more space. The only downside was the champagne glass from the upper tier that crashed to earth a few feet from us. I suppose I should be grateful it wasn‘t the bottle.

The view from somewhere else.

The view from somewhere else.

South Africa consolidated their position for a while in the afternoon session with Amla and De Villiers looking pretty well set until Amla went for thirty-five. Johnson then returned for another spell as tea approached and soon took his tenth wicket of the match removing Duminy.

Remember when his bowling was shite?

Remember when his bowling was shite?

It’s a pleasure to watch Johnson in this sort of form, particularly when it isn‘t England in the firing line. In the over following the one in which he took Duminy’s wicket he drew blood when hitting McLaren on the head. It’s hard to see what anyone can do when he’s in what is surely the form of his life. That Barmy Army song seems a world away these days.

This was the ball that clocked McLaren.

This was the ball that clocked McLaren.

McLaren batted on after tea with a lump on his napper but he and his team mates didn‘t prolong matters unduly. Less than an hour into the session the tail had capitulated and it was all over with more than a day to spare. Johnson added one more victim to finish with twelve wickets in the match as Australia took the opening game of the three test series.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: