Newlands likely to be packed

2010-01-02 17:01

Cape Town - If Lord’s is the place to be for Test cricket in England then certainly much the same applies to Sahara Park Newlands as far as the South African five-day game is concerned.

It has become the fortress of the Proteas’ Castle Test squad and the venue consistently draws the biggest crowds of any ground in the country.

By the close of business on Friday a grand total of 84 000 tickets (that makes an aggregate of well over 150 000 for the series) had been sold and house full signs could become a regular sight on the first few days as the Proteas bid to overcome a 1-0 series deficit and take the Basil d’Oliveira Trophy to a decider at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium later in the month.

The Proteas have had an enviable record at Sahara Park Newlands since unity. Australia are the only visiting team to have won here (on three occasions) and this streak was beaten when the Proteas won by an innings last season. All the Australian games have taken place in March and the last time South Africa lost a New Year Test was back in 1967.

The modern day record at Newlands is: played 20, won 14, drawn 3, lost 3.

Nobody seems certain as to why the Proteas have such a dominant record at Sahara Park Newlands. The pitch is certainly a factor as it fits perfectly the brand of cricket that the Proteas want to play. It normally has a bit of pace and bounce, is good for batting for the first three days and gives the bowlers some assistance in the form of spin and variable bounce as it deteriorates on days 4 and 5.

There is also the fact that there has always been a solid core of players based in Cape Town and who learned their cricket there in the top order.

The current crop includes Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy and in previous eras you could add the names of Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs. Ashwell Prince has also played a sizeable part of his career at Newlands.

Their record against England is equally impressive. Since unity the Test matches have been won by 10 wickets in 1996 (inside three days), by an innings in 2000 and by 196 runs in 2005.

That latter victory has a parallel to today as England also came to Newlands in 2005 with a 1-0 series lead after a decisive victory at Axxess DSL St. George’s and by far the better of the draw at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead where bad light got the home side off the hook.

South Africa have five survivors from 2005 in Smith, Kallis, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Makhaya Ntini while England have one in Andrew Strauss.

Morne Morkel will be making his Newlands Test match debut and the same could apply to Friedel de Wet.

Mark Boucher could reach an important landmark as he has 98 Test match dismissals against England.


  • Jimminy Cricket - 2010-01-02 18:56

    Come-on, Proteas! We can do it... Let's hope the pitch has been better prepared to favour our strengths. A spinning wicket has proven to be our Achillies heel. The batting line-up is fine. We need our bowlers to come to the party. We are with you all the way, South Africa. Good luck!

  • Gruntfuttock of Africa - 2010-01-02 19:51

    We are going into this crucial match with the hypermanic publicity and total lack of form that could lead to a very embarassing disaster. Management, captaincy and other positions are at stake here. Good luck Proteas - may the best team be selected to play in Johannesburg

  • Tommy Gun - 2010-01-02 20:25

    Come on England - let's wrap this one up. You let me down in the ODI at Newlands - so a nice little innings and 98 runs scolding will do again!

  • Andre Barnard - 2010-01-02 20:47

    Never mind the pitch. Forget about circumstances, weather and the likes. Just go out there and do what all of you are capable of doing. Bat like kings and bowl with venom and the Poms will crumble.

  • protea poppie - 2010-01-02 21:46

    Show them, boys!! One win does not end the series...we know you can do it. Let the bowlers come out firing (but not tense...that messes up your technique) and all will go well. Above all, maintain your world-renowned fighting spirit and don't let your shoulders drop!

  • Jon - 2010-01-03 03:24

    Sahara Park? So, where can I leave my camel, then?

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