Easterns v Free State, Sunday 25th January 2015, 9.30am

1-opening shot

I’d been meaning to get to Willowmoore Park for a while and the opportunity cropped up when a Sunday morning departure from the farm we’d being staying at meant that we could pop along and see the second innings of a one day provincial game between Easterns and Free State.

It had been a fairly poor weekend for wildlife. The last time we’d stayed at Kohande we’d stalked baboons through the woods. This time though we had to be content with a few assorted boks. They are okay, but a poor consolation when you know that there are monkeys around.

Big horned bok.

Big horned bok.

Benoni turned out to be a bleak place, or at least it did on a gray Sunday with shop shutters down, rubbish blowing along the street and everyone else having somewhere better to be. We found Willowmoore Park easily enough and had our pick of the car park spaces. If we’d wanted we could have taken any of the spots reserved for the big bosses of South African cricket.

The car park wasn’t the only place with plenty of space and with the exception of the players balcony we had the choice of just about any seat in the ground. We settled for the President’s Suite which we shared with the only other inhabitant, the Easterns wicketkeeper’s mother. Maybe she was also the President, but if she was she hadn’t made use of her parking space.

View from the President's Suite

View from the President’s Suite

Easterns fifty over score of two hundred and seventeen for seven didn’t look to be too taxing a target for Free State. If anything was going to scupper their efforts then it was probably going to be the weather. I left Jen and Mrs Bula in the seats outside of the President’s Suite and took the opportunity to have a look around whilst I could.

At the far end of the ground there were another three or four pitches, with games taking place on two of them. These were more traditional efforts with the players in whites and some even wearing the sort of cap that I haven’t seen since my cub scout days.

Just like the olden days

Just like the olden days

When the rain began falling we relocated to the main stand. It probably has a name but I haven’t bothered looking for it. It’s old though, probably the oldest part of the ground, although at some point plastic seats had been added to it. There were a couple of members of the ground staff and a player’s girlfriend sat towards the back, but apart from them we had it to ourselves.

Denis Compton scored three hundred at this ground on an MCC tour in 1948. It only took him a minute over three hours and ended up as his highest first class score. I tried to imagine how the surroundings would have looked then and assumed that the main stand would have been there, without the seats, but not much elsewhere around the perimeter. There would maybe have been a wooden scorers box and board and, I suspect, a lot more spectators.

The old stand.

The old stand.

The rain got heavier and further play became unlikely. We waited for an hour an a half but realistically nothing else apart from the odd inspection was going to happen. The Free State score of sixty two for three off twelve overs wasn’t enough to allow a result and so the match was abandoned.



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