Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category

Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, Saturday 10th March 2018, 7.15pm

March 30, 2018

Our third sporting event of the day was the game that the trip had originally been planned around. It was a T20 international between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and required another tuk-tuk ride, this time twenty minutes or so to the R. Premesada stadium.

It was busy outside, with reports of a sellout and our driver dropped us a few minutes walk away. It wasn’t much of a tourist area, with the streets full of shops doing bike repairs, selling car parts and even a tinker. I don’t remember what a tinker does, but should I ever need any tinking I now know where to go.

Security was tight, as you might expect when a state of emergency had been declared three days earlier. We passed through two security checkpoints and  a body scanner before doing a lap of the stadium to find our entrance for the grandstand. We had posh tickets, bought online for five thousand rupees a few weeks earlier and there was a lift to take us up to our upper level.

I’d selected row A, which was fine until people started standing at the railings. Initially I was able to wave them out of our line of vision but sensing a losing battle we soon moved backwards to an area of empty seats that gave a much better view. Beer was on sale for under a quid and there was a selection of chicken, burgers and chips available. I had plenty of everything.

Whist there were empty seats in our section and the stands either side, the big curved stand opposite looked full. Most people appeared to be standing in those areas and all were making plenty of noise. The section we were in was definitely the best for sitting quietly.

The game was part of a three team tournament  that also involved India and, I think, was intended to celebrate an independence anniversary. Sri Lanka batted well and comfortably went along at ten an over to finish on 214.

That score should really have been enough, particularly as Bangladesh has a poor record against their hosts in this format, winning only two of the the previous nine encounters. The visitors went at it well though, initially scoring at twelve an over and always seeming to be up with the required rate.

At the death Bangladesh hit the winning runs with two balls in hand. Our tuk-tuk driver for the journey back to our Fort hotel seemed to think he had the invincibility of an armoured vehicle rather than the vulnerability of a motorbike with a box on the back. On the plus side, his reckless manoeuvres did leave a little more time for late evening drinking, something that the ongoing state of emergency or the recent law that prohibits women from consuming alcohol failed to impact upon at all.

 

Royals v Thomians, Saturday 10th March 2018, 10.30am

March 28, 2018

Colombo is less than a four-hour flight away from KL and so when I noticed a weekend T20 international between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh I thought it might be worth a visit. Jen and I arrived on the Friday night and on Saturday morning we had the task of collecting our tickets from the Sri Lankan cricketing headquarters at the Sinhalese Sports Club. The game wasn’t taking place there, it was at the newer R. Premesada stadium a few kilometres away, but I suppose it made sense to ensure that everyone arriving for that evening’s action already had their ticket in their hand.

The SSC wasn’t the easiest place to find and so we made use of a tuk-tuk. It goes without saying that the driver had no desire to take us straight there, but as we had plenty of time we agreed to his suggestion of stopping off at some famous buddhist temple.

It was an odd sort of temple, on one hand it had the usual golden statues, but it was also crammed with all sorts of bric-a-brac, old photos, ornaments and thirty year old cameras. There was even a radio cassette player from the eighties and a video recorder that you could probably carbon date to ten years later. It made me wonder whether I should convert our UK lockup into a place of worship.

The SSC was incredibly busy, far more so than you’d expect, even if a lot of people had left collecting their T20 tickets until the day of the game. The real reason for the crowds was that there was an annual Schools match, the 139th Battle of the Blues. Whilst you’d probably say Eton v Harrow at Lords would be the nearest English equivalent in terms of a sporting contest, the atmosphere was more like the annual Oxford v Cambridge rugby game at Twickenham.

Well, with something like that going on, the tuk-tuk driver’s proposal that he take us to some gems market around the corner was never going to have much appeal. We told him that we were fine for diamonds, picked up our tickets for the evening game and then set about trying to get inside the ground.

We were directed all around the perimeter but couldn’t find a ticket office. Eventually at Gate 1 we were told that there should be tickets available in around five minutes. A quarter of an hour later we were quietly told by a young lad handing out those cardboard signs with a 4 on them that the game was actually sold out and that the gatekeepers didn’t want to pass on the bad news.

We wandered back in the direction that we had come from and when I saw a bloke with a couple of tickets in his hand I asked him where I could buy some. “Here” he replied and offered me the two that he had. They were three-day tickets with a face value of 3,800 Sri Lankan Rupees, which is around seventeen quid. As this was day two of a three-day game he discounted them by a third and asked for 2,500. Result.

We made our way back to Gate 1 and after giving a thumbs up to the boundary card distributor we were into the ground. We passed through a section with food stalls and made our way upstairs to our seats in the pavilion grandstand. We were just in time to nab front row seats which, apart from a stanchion, gave us a decent view of the field.

Whilst the outside had been busy, the inside of the SSC was at another level. I read that there had been eighteen thousand attending the day before, including the Sri Lanka Prime Minister who had quite rightly prioritised an old boys day out over paying closer attention to the domestic crisis that had necessitated him announcing a State of Emergency just two days earlier. It looked as if there were at least as many spectators for the second day as the first.

The stands were sub-divided into numerous enclosures occupied by groups of old boys and current boys. There was a mix of live and recorded music blaring out with the drummers and trumpeters competing to drown each other out. It was obviously a very big social occasion with few people watching the cricket as they caught up with old classmates.

The Royals were three down in their first innings, responding to the St Thomas’ score of 166. For most of the morning we watched a decent partnership between two lads who will no doubt be reliving it over a beer at this event for the next fifty years. It was brought to an end when the big fast bowler took his fourth wicket of the innings and Royal College went in at lunch about seventy behind with six wickets remaining.

The lunch break was the signal for a lot of the spectators to wander around the outfield, catching up with old mates and documenting their attendance with selfies. We had stuff to do and with rain in the air we did a lap around the edge and then headed out, ears ringing. At the exit we handed over our tickets, wristbands and pass outs to the boundary card fella who had been helpful when we’d been ticketless. Hopefully he was able to put them to good use.

Vietnam v Singapore, Sunday 27th August 2017, 1pm

October 29, 2017

We’d stayed up in Kuala Lumpur overnight after the Thailand – Myanmar football semi-final and had a late night glugging back rioja in a Bukit Bintang tapas bar. It all worked out well though as next day there was a game in the SEA Games cricket competition soon after lunch.

The game was at Kinrara Oval, a venue that we’d turned up at for a game once before only to find nothing more going on than a few kids practising in the outfield. It’s a relatively new ground and if I remember my research from that earlier visit I think Australia once played a one–day international there. Still, I could have been as wrong about that as I was the date of whatever game I’d previously mistakenly turned up to see.

I wondered if I’d ballsed up again this time as the place was hardly crowded. We parked a couple of hundred yards down the road but if I’d tried, and been able to bluff my way in, there was still space for parking in the small area behind the pavilion.

We could have sat in the seating at the front of the small pavilion but there was a speaker close by that was blaring out music loud enough to make conversation difficult. Why do places do this? Supermarkets are as loud as nightclubs in Malaysia. There’s no need whatsoever to subject people to shite music at any volume whatsoever, never mind levels similar to an aircraft taking off.

To get away from the noise we headed over to a covered stand that ran parallel to the wicket. As play got underway we were gradually joined by another thirty-odd people. Hardly a great attendance for a free international fixture.

Singapore batted first and looked pretty competent as they tonked the bowling in all directions. Vietnam looked less capable in the field, with one experienced looking player bollocking his team mates just about every over for their inability to get hold of the ball. He quietened down a bit after letting one through his legs for a boundary.

Singapore knocked up a couple of hundred or so in their twenty overs. I’d be more precise but it really was irrelevant as they could have declared at fifty and still won. Vietnam, if my dodgy memory is anywhere near accurate, lost half their wickets before they even reached double figures. I think Singapore may have eased off at that point and allowed them to eek out a few more overs and get somewhere near thirty.

Despite the one-sided nature of the contest and the standard being somewhat similar to Norton Thirds, it was still an afternoon at the cricket and that’s always a decent way to while away my time.

South Africa v New Zealand, Sunday 16th August 2015, 2pm

September 10, 2015

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The T20 game between South Africa and New Zealand in Pretoria just about brought Tom’s visit to South Africa to an end. After the rugby the previous weekend we’d spent most of the time in between up at Lake Jozini catching tiger fish. Before leaving Durban though we’d done some sea fishing. It’s the wrong time of year apparently for big fish but we caught some small stuff, including this sea barbel, and had an enjoyable morning not too far out from the shore.

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At Jozini Tom caught a different type of barbel, but it was tiger fish that we were after and we got quite a few of those too. The hooks were baited with frozen pilchards and a small piece of chicken liver. Probably around a third of the bites became successful strikes and some of the tiger fish were a decent size.

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We also had time for a drive around a wildlife park nearby and in what was looking to be a fairly quiet day spotted a group of four cheetahs. I don’t think Tom appreciated what a big deal cheetahs are but in the last two years  Jen and I have probably spent a few weeks in total in national parks and we’d not seen a single one.

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Back in Pretoria Tom and I were able to walk from our hotel to the T20 game at Centurion. We had grandstand seats which gave us the benefit of the shade and they were close enough to a bar to make the drinking easy.

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After watching South Africa’s innings we had a wander around the ground. I still love the idea that braais are encouraged to the extent that free fuel is provided. No way would people ever be allowed to light fires at a sporting event in England.

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Whilst our grandstand seats had been decent, it was good to watch the game from different vantage points. Most of the seating at Supersport Park is on the grassy banks and it creates a relaxed atmosphere where eating, drinking, kids playing their own cricket games and occasionally even sleeping goes on with the main event providing the backdrop and the reason for the day out.

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South Africa posted a decent total, but New Zealand never really threatened to come close. They did, at least, manage to bat out their full twenty overs in a much appreciated effort to avoid an early finish.

 

Sunfoil Dolphins v Cape Cobras, Sunday 29th March 2015, 9am

May 20, 2015

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It’s the end of another cricket season out here and when I saw that the Dolphins were playing their final first class game at Pietermaritzburg Oval I thought it would be a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning before heading off to the horse racing at nearby Scottsville.

Sunday was the fourth and final day and I’d been following the game’s progress on Cricinfo in the hope that it would actually make it that far. The Cobras had batted first and got close to six hundred before bowling out the Dolphins cheaply and making them follow on.

By close of play on the Saturday night the home side had just four second innings wickets remaining and still needed 126 more runs to make the Cobras bat again. With that in mind I wasn’t expecting play to last for long the next day and so Jen and I set off early enough from Durban to be there for the nine o’clock start.

The City Oval sits in Alexandra Park and is just the sort of place that I like to watch cricket. It’s the sort of venue that I’d expect everyone to like to watch cricket. Surrounded by trees, the only permanent looking structure is a Victorian Pavilion, although the ‘temporary’ seating around part of the perimeter looks like it has been there for at least forty years, probably longer.

It's so nineteenth century.

It’s so nineteenth century.

I took a walk around the field and read the series of plaques that outlined some of the history of the place. It has hosted a few MCC touring teams in the past and the feats of the likes of Bill Edrich at the ground are recorded for people like me to stumble upon.

One plaque commemorated the planting of a tree by Denis Compton in 1957. Fortunately he had selected a spot beyond the boundary rope, mindful perhaps of the tree on the other side of the ground that was infringing on the outfield by a good five yards.

Denis Compton's tree.

Denis Compton’s tree.

I hadn’t realised that this was one of only two first class grounds with a tree inside the boundary. I was familiar with the one at Kent, but had assumed that this would have been a quirk of quite a few grounds around the world. It isn’t  though and if the original damaged tree at Canterbury hadn’t been replaced a few years ago then this one would have been unique.

Who planted that?

Who planted that?

We didn’t quite make it in time for the start of play, missing the first three balls. At that stage there was only one other spectator, an old fella with the look of someone whose wife had sent him outside in the early morning with an instruction to keep out of her way until dinner time.

We were joined for five minutes or so by a couple of young lads who I think were just looking for somewhere to sit down for a while. A family of four then briefly swelled the crowd as they walked around the outfield on their way to somewhere else.

Then there were two.

Then there were two.

The Dolphins held out until the third over of the morning before losing their seventh wicket and within three further overs two more of their batsmen were back in that 1898 pavilion with just four runs added to their overnight score.

I had been hoping for a little bit more resistance than they put up but I suppose with the result being a foregone conclusion and it also being the final day of the season, everyone involved will have had somewhere else that they’d rather have been. There seemed little likelihood of anyone seeking to prolong matters for the benefit of the three of us in the crowd.

And one for Eric.

And one for Eric.

The last wicket pair held out for twenty minutes, which was at least fifteen minutes more than I had thought they would, adding another five runs before Beuran Hendricks brought the Dolphins innings to a close and another season to an end.

 

Amatuks v Mpumalanga Black Aces, Saturday 28th February 2015, 3.30pm

March 23, 2015

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Jen and I make an effort to go somewhere each weekend. After all, what’s the point of working around the world if you don’t try and see as much of it as you can? Sometimes though, we don’t go very far and this weekend was one of those occasions.

There’s a nature reserve about half an hour away from where we live that we’ve stayed at a few times. We can hike on a morning and have a fire on an evening. Sometimes when we are hiking we stumble across interesting stuff like bones, warthog tusks or porcupine quills. During the hike this weekend we got luckier and found an ostrich egg. It was cold and abandoned, but we left it until the next morning to be sure.

From what I’ve heard, ostrich eggs can be difficult to open. I’ve read about people having to use a hacksaw on them. I kept it simple though and just hoyed it at a rock. We’d been hoping that there might have been a partly developed embryo inside, but disappointingly there was just yolk and albumen. Lots of it. Still, it exploded in such a satisfying way that I’d like to drop the next one from an upstairs window.

It was even better than smashing a telly.

It was even better than smashing a telly.

In the spare time between hiking and lighting fires we went to the match. The University of Pretoria team, Amatuks, were at home to Mpumalanga Black Aces in the Premier league and in keeping with the local nature of the weekend it wasn’t much more than half an hour‘s drive away.

Security was tight at Tuks Stadium, although they didn’t mind us taking bottles of coke and a camera in with us, items that we’ve had knocked back elsewhere. Jen noticed a cricket game taking place on a pitch behind one of the stands and by taking up residence in the media seats at the top of the stand we were able to reposition our stools to watch that game until the football started.

I couldn’t find out which teams were playing, but the two of us just about doubled their crowd. I kept missing wickets falling by being distracted by events on the football pitch, but I did see a bowler attempt to ‘Mankad‘ the non-striking batsman. Even though the batsman got away with it, the fuss might very well have unsettled his partner who was dismissed next ball.

Pretoria University cricket.

Pretoria University cricket.

When the football started we stayed in the media area. I’m rarely challenged if I’m somewhere that I’m not supposed to be and as there were more stools and desk space than reporters I felt that we weren’t doing any harm.

In fact we must have looked at home there as towards the end of the game a liaison person came over to advise us that the post-match interviewing of players and managers would take place in the tunnel. I had half a mind to nip down and pursue the Five Star on Going Live! style of questioning with them but reluctantly resisted the temptation.

All of the real reporters strolled up close to kick-off.  All that is except the bloke next to us who turned up twenty-five minutes after the game had started. He didn’t seem concerned to have missed Amatuks going a goal up and spent most of the remainder of the first half checking his emails.

View to the left.

View to the left.

There were a couple of players that stood out. For Amatuks it was their Ugandan striker Geoffrey Massa. He carried a bit of weight but made up for his lack of athleticism with his speed of thought.

The trouble was though that he didn’t make any allowances for those of his team mates without those extra yards in their heads and he would regularly thread passes through the Black Aces defence that his colleagues didn’t realise were going to happen until the chance had long gone.

View to the right.

View to the right.

For the visitors it was Zimbabwean Tendai Ndoro who made the biggest impression.  Initially that was more down to his haircut and sulky attitude than anything worthwhile but five minutes before half-time he calmly cancelled out Amatuks opening goal with an assured finish.

Haircut of the day.

Haircut of the day.

The highlight of the second half was the arrival of a  hundred or so Amatuks fans fresh from their team’s victory in the competition for reserve sides, the Multichoice Diski Challenge. I’d thought about going myself but it was a further hour or more drive away and so I’d settled for the local option.

Late arrivals.

Late arrivals.

Twelve minutes from time Amatuks clinched the win when Black Aces failed to clear the ball and some fella half volleyed home at the back post.

 

 

Namibia v Easterns, Sunday 8th February 2015, 10am

March 9, 2015

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Whilst the scheduling of football in Africa leaves a lot to be desired with frequent venue and timing changes, cricket is far more reliable. If a game is listed as taking place then it generally does unless, as everywhere, the weather intervenes.

With that in mind I was pleased to see that our stay in Windhoek coincided with a fifty over provincial game between Namibia and the South African side, Easterns. It’s a little odd to see a country competing with regional sides but I suppose it’s similar to Scotland taking part in the one day competitions against the English counties.

As we left our hotel we spotted a couple of Himba kids in the car park. It seems that the market where their mothers flash their jugs is a seven days a week affair. I’d seen the kids in the shopping centre the previous day, wandering around barefoot and wearing nothing more than a string around the waist. I dare say at the ages of three or four they wouldn’t be too bothered about it, but I suspect that they might become a little more self-conscious as they got older.

Himba kids.

Himba kids.

The Wanderers stadium was easy enough to find and after having our car searched we made our way in and parked just behind the scoreboard. I looked the place up on the internet and an England XI had played a couple of one day games against Namibia there in 2004. The first of them being Kevin Pieterson‘s debut for an English representative side.

Play should have started at half past nine, but whilst the players were all milling around, the game had yet to begin. The only action was provided by a kid in a Barcelona away strip using a cricket net as a football goal. Those shirts get everywhere.

Barca kid.

Barca kid.

Jen and I took seats in the shade in front of a bar. As play started we were joined  by two couples, each consisting of a woman reading a magazine and a man compiling his own scorecard. One of the fellas got so infuriated by the inaccuracy of the scoreboard that he left his seat and altered it himself.

There was also a woman sat by herself with an early morning lager. “I love cricket” she told us as she lit another Chesterfield.

View from our seats.

View from our seats.

She wasn’t the only one starting early as there were a handful of people in the bar watching a T20 game on the telly. I imagine the main benefit of being indoors was the air-conditioning.

We’d been to an Easterns game a couple of weeks earlier and in an equally empty venue had sat near to their wicketkeeper‘s Mam. She wasn’t there for this game but I still kept an eye out for her boy, hoping that he’d do okay.

View from the other side.

View from the other side.

We couldn’t stay all day as we had a football game with a noon kick-off to get to, but we watched the first twenty overs or so, Namibia getting to around seventy for two by the time we left them to it.

 

 

South Africa ‘A‘ v England Lions, Saturday 31st January 2015, 10am

February 22, 2015

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I’d hoped to get along to see England’s development side in one of their four day ‘Tests‘ earlier in their tour, but the dates didn’t quite fall right. That left the one day games and Potchefstroom on a Saturday worked just fine.

Potchefstroom is about two and a half hours by car from where we live and an easy drive along the road to Kimberley. We arrived half an hour or so before the start and were surprised to see the streets lined with people already cooking on their braais.

I wondered if there was something else going on, perhaps a popular road race or their annual ‘Braai on the pavement‘ day, as it seemed unlikely that everyone would be interested in a South Africa ‘A‘ cricket game. I’ve been to test matches over here where the ground was only ten per cent full.

We parked just outside of the main entrance to Senwes Park and were very kindly given a couple of complimentaries by the people ahead of us on the way in. Despite it being close to the scheduled starting time of ten, very few other people were bothering to make their way inside and we had our pick of the seats in the covered stand.

The sky was dark enough to make immediate play seem unlikely. It brightened intermittently with the occasional flash of lightning, but rain seemed imminent. It was a pleasant surprise therefore when the players took the field at a quarter past ten.

View from the covered stand.

View from the covered stand.

There were still very few people in the ground. One or two on the grass embankment, a couple of groups in the executive boxes and maybe a dozen alongside us in the main stand. As it wasn’t really the weather for a braai, it was difficult to understand why people were choosing to hang around outside by the side of the road.

View from further around.

View from further around.

I was temporarily distracted by a bird hanging from the roof. The zoom lens showed that it had fishing line wrapped around a leg and it was suspended a few inches below a beam. Every now and then it would try to fly away, only to be pulled up as the line halted its progress.

It would probably have taken a fire engine or cherry picker to have rescued it and as that was unlikely to happen a quickish death was about the best that could be hoped for.

There wasn't really anything we could do.

There wasn’t really anything we could do.

I can’t remember who won the toss, but England fielded. We had an over from Mark Wood and then two balls from the recently arrived addition to the squad, Tim Bresnan.

Not much of a workout for Bresnan.

Not much of a workout for Bresnan.

At that point the rain came down and the players returned to their dressing rooms. I wondered how it would affect the braais outside and whether we’d see an influx of spectators hoping to shelter under the roof or whether everyone would just clear off home. It turned out to be the latter.

Not the best of weather.

Not the best of weather.

The rain eased off after an hour, which allowed some kids in the family area to get their own game going, but  it had been so torrential that a further hour on it was still being collected by the sponge roller car.

The most action we saw all day.

The most action we saw all day.

At the point when play looked like it might be possible the rain started again. It wasn’t as heavy as earlier but the cumulative effect combined with time running out proved sufficient to bring the day to a close and play was abandoned at half past two.

We’d seen eight balls in four and a half hours, although that was eight balls more than most of the people who had been braaing since before breakfast.

 

 

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

February 20, 2015

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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.

 

 

South Africa v West Indies, Wednesday 17th December 2014,10:30am

December 29, 2014

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The West Indies are in town and Jen and I were able to squeeze in the opening couple of sessions from the first day of the first test at Centurion before heading off to the airport for a flight back to Europe.

It was raining as we drove to the ground, which I thought was quite unfortunate. It rains a fair bit at this time of the year, by African standards anyway, but it usually happens in the evening. Morning rain, when you are off to watch the cricket, could be considered unlucky.

We’d pre-booked parking, but as with the recent Chiefs v Pirates game, we needn’t have bothered. The car park was the piece of wasteland that we’d used on our last visit to Centurion and every passing car was being directed in regardless of whether they had a ticket or not.

The first braai of the day was already smoking away next to a pick up truck. I couldn’t see the sense in that. There were only three-quarters of an hour to go to the start of play and there were braais available inside the stadium. Why have a leisurely breakfast on the wasteland whilst the event you’ve come to see goes on without you?

On the way in.

On the way in.

We had sixty rand tickets for the covered grandstand, in an attempt to avoid whichever of the rain or sun would be causing problems. We’d sat on the grass last time, but I’m getting to the age where I like a proper chair and whilst I could have brought one in with me, it’s less hassle to just sit in the ones already there.

The rain had eased up, but had delayed the start for half an hour which meant we got to watch the teams complete their warm-ups. The West Indies won the toss and decided to bowl. I was quite pleased with that as I hoped it might go some way to mitigating the South African team’s superiority.

Amla signing autographs

Amla signing autographs

The host’s opening pair got off to a good start before three wickets in a short space of time swung the momentum towards the West Indies. That’s what I like about cricket, particularly test cricket. A good spell can turn the advantage around, only for it to go the other way again an hour or so later.

Amla and de Villiers then batted out the remainder of the morning to conclude what I’d say was a reasonable session for both sides with the score on 102 for 3.

View from the grandstand.

View from the grandstand.

We stretched our legs with a couple of laps of the ground at lunchtime. There were still people coming in, perhaps after having waited to see how the weather would pan out. Others were taking advantage of the cooking facilities provided as an alternative to spending the day heating up charcoal in the car park.

Lunchtime braai.

Lunchtime braai.

We moved seats for the second session, partly because I like to do that but also because the fellas sat behind us were yapping away that bit too loudly. I don’t need to know every detail of each of your lives and that of everyone you know, just sit quietly and watch the cricket.

Our new seats were further around towards the grass. There was a bar with a swimming pool between the two areas. You wouldn’t want to try and train for the Olympics in it, but it was big enough to allow a few of the people with limited attention spans to take a break from proceedings and wander around thigh deep in it or throw water at each other.

Swimming pool bar

Swimming pool bar

Amla and de Villiers carried on in the afternoon in a similar manner to that of the morning. Jen and I had to leave at the tea interval to catch our flight to Istanbul and at that stage they were both looking well set for centuries. I saw the closing overs on the telly at the airport and by then they were both on their way to a hundred and fifty. Definitely South Africa’s day.