Highveld Lions v Chevrolet Knights, Sunday 7th December 2014, 2.30pm

1 - sunbathers

The T20 season is drawing to a close and the midweek results confirmed the Lions in second place in the table, with the Knights one place behind. That gave the Lions home advantage in the play-off to determine which of them would meet Cape Cobras in the final.

Jen and I had a free Sunday and so decided to go along. As with the last time we’d been at the Wanderers Stadium, we combined the game with a pre-match hike at Groenkloof. We’d hoped to avoid the worst of the sun by starting our walk at seven in the morning, but the five hour duration scuppered that plan and it was pretty hot by the time we’d finished.

We haven’t seen the giraffes the last couple of times that we’ve been to Groenkloof but we got within a few feet of a zebra group that included a couple of young ones. On the basis that horses appear fully grown by the time that they are two or three, my assumption was that these foals were under a year old.

Not as good as giraffes.

Not as good as giraffes.

We arrived at the ground with around an hour to spare, happy to read the paper in the shade as the teams warmed up. As you might imagine the place was fairly empty at that time, but it didn’t really fill up over the course of the afternoon. Tickets were cheap enough at forty rand for the grassy bank and fifty rand for the grandstand, but a combination of short notice and indifference meant that almost all but around a thousand remained unsold.

I wondered if free admission would have made much of a difference. Forty rand (£2.20) isn’t much to me, but a lot of jobs out here are poorly paid and if a family of four wanted to attend, it could add up to the equivalent of a day’s pay for some people.

Mind you, I’ve attended plenty of free sporting events in South Africa, mainly third tier football or county championship level cricket and they’ve usually been poorly attended too. Maybe it’s just a lack of interest in general.

Looking left from the Memorial Stand.

Looking left from the Memorial Stand.

Lions won the toss and batted. Chris Gayle opened the innings for them and a lot of their hopes were linked to the performance of the former world number one T20 batsman. He didn’t last for long though, tonking a couple of early boundaries before cracking one straight down a fielders throat at midwicket.

The West Indies are just about to start a tour of South Africa, but Gayle won’t be joining them. Officially, it’s an injury, but it doesn’t seem to stop him playing T20.

Chris Gayle briefly at the crease.

Chris Gayle briefly at the crease.

The home side never really got going after losing their star man and finished a couple of runs short of a hundred and fifty. I’d have thought that they’d have been wanting at least another thirty or forty on top of that.

We had a wander around the perimeter between innings to pick up some drinks before taking seats in the lower tier of the Unity Stand for the Knights innings.

Half-time.

Half-time.

The target wasn’t overly taxing for the Knights and after losing Abrahams early on, Hendricks and Rossouw chugged along at the necessary seven and a half per over. My interest was in watching Eddie Leie who has a bowling action almost as unusual as that of former South African spinner Paul ‘frog in a blender’ Adams. I did my best to capture it on camera but it was hard to do it justice.

It looks odder in real life.

It looks odder in real life.

Hendricks and Rossouw saw the Knights to within five runs of victory before Rossouw holed out trying to finish in style. It only took one more ball to bring the afternoon to a conclusion though as Hendricks succeeded where his former partner had failed and hoisted a six into the crowd.

 

 

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