Knights v Dolphins, Sunday 6th April 2014, 10am

1 - opening shot

Jen and I had a choice as to what to watch on the second day of our weekend in Bloemfontein, but as we had a five hour drive back up to Gauteng that day I didn’t really fancy hanging about for the three o’clock kick-off in the Bloemfontein Celtic game.

The alternative option was going to the cricket, specifically the fourth day of the Knights v Dolphin ‘county championship‘ clash. As well as it being the final day of the game, it was also the final day of the season.

Chevrolet Park is actually only a few hundred yards from the hotel that we were staying in, but I hadn’t realised and we ended up driving around the outskirts of Bloemfontein looking for the golf club that the blue dot on my phone seemed determined to direct us to.

Eventually, by putting the previous stadium name of Outsurance Oval into the satnav we discovered that the location was pretty much where had set off from almost an hour earlier.

Chevrolet Park

Chevrolet Park

Admission was free and we entered the ground a couple of minutes after the start of play only to see the players all walking off the field. The final wicket of the Knights first innings had just been taken, after an impressive stand of one hundred and seventeen and so we had the ten minute between innings break to find ourselves somewhere to sit.

It wasn’t difficult to get seats as there were only four other people watching, all of whom I assumed to be relatives of the players. In the time that we were there I counted a total of eleven different people watching, although there were never more than seven at a time. I know there wasn’t likely to be a result in the match and even if there had been it wouldn’t have counted for much, but come on, eleven people at a free entry first class cricket game? What better way could there be to idle away a decent portion of a Sunday?

That was all of them at that time.

That was all of them at that time.

The seats that we took turned out to be a little too close to a bird’s nest just above us and so the gaps between deliveries were spent watching the parents turning up with grubs in their mouths, anxiously wondering whether they should reveal the location, before invariably deciding not to and then eating the grub themselves.

I've no idea what type of bird it was.

I’ve no idea what type of bird it was.

Jen isn’t overly impressed with cricket and so she cleared off to do a bit of shopping. That reduction in the crowd from six to five was my cue to have a wander around the ground and have each of the other stands to myself.

As I left whichever stand I was in I noticed an open door to a room with tables in it and found myself in the players dining room. I can’t say I’d ever wondered about the lunching arrangements, but now I know how they do it at Chevrolet Stadium.

Plenty of cake, I'd imagine.

Plenty of cake, I’d imagine.

There wasn’t anyone watching from the big stand to the left, but there a few people working underneath it, washing cars and doing a bit of general maintenance. I don’t suppose there will be much going on for a few months once this game had finished.

The view to the left.

The view to the left.

The first breakthrough of the morning for the Knights came as I was making my way across the grassy bank that was parallel with the wicket. It didn’t mean a lot in terms of the game as the Dolphins probably weren’t intending to bat for too long.

A first innings lead of around a hundred and twenty suggested that they would smack the ball around for the morning session or maybe a little longer and then go through the motions of having a bowl with little hope of a result.

The view back towards where we'd been sat.

The view back towards where we’d been sat.

Looking across towards the wicket you can see the Free State Stadium in the background. The realisation that we were within fifty yards or so of Chevrolet Park the previous day when at the rugby game just makes the one hour drive around looking for the ground even more laughable.

There’s another grassy bank on the Free State Stadium side of the pitch that has a few trees dotted around. Not so good if you end up behind one, but ideal if you get there early and prop yourself up against one.

As I walked between the trees I noticed that the leaves had started it fall. Autumn in April. I’m still getting used to living in the southern hemisphere and in my book April is the time for the start of the cricket season, not the end of it.

Free State Stadium in the background.

Free State Stadium in the background.

Did I say that there were eleven spectators? Well, make that eleven and a dog as one fella took his mutt for a walk around the boundary rope. Not only that, he threw a ball for it to chase. Just what you need at a cricket game. That said, the players positioned by the rope seemed to welcome the diversion. Maybe they were hoping Fido would save a four.

One man and his dog.

One man and his dog.

The Dolphins continued to hit out for the rest of the morning session, losing three or four wickets as they scored at more than six an over. I’d been expecting them to take lunch at noon, after two hours play, but they carried on for another ten minutes. Perhaps they were making up time from earlier in the game.

Time for lunch.

Time for lunch.

With a five hour drive ahead of us the end of the morning’s play was our signal to clear off.  For those of you who want to know what happened in the match, Dolphins declared not long into the afternoon session, setting the Knights a target of three hundred and seventeen. It seems that both teams went through the motions for a while before calling it a day and heading off early too.



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