Cricket

Mabhida still best for soccer?

2011-01-10 12:58
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Purpose-built for the soccer World Cup, although versatile within reason, some commentators have been gushing that Sunday’s maiden cricket experience at Moses Mabhiba Stadium is worth repeating.

WIN: Proteas v India ODI tickets

I watched it on television and, by all accounts, it was a vibrant day – aided by the essential Bollywood injection, mind - and a fitting send-off for Makhaya Ntini, one of the South African game’s favourite and most poignant sons.

Cricket South Africa had marketed and hyped the occasion – officially, questionably a Twenty20 international but clearly less orthodox than that – to a quite unprecedented degree, and we are led to believe that they got their much-desired sell-out and thus record domestic once-off audience for the sport.

For the record, India won by 21 runs but few, including several smiling, bantering participants, seemed to care too greatly about the outcome – the match oozed sentimentality and a relaxed, carnival vibe and was light years shy of the intensity seen during the majestic Test series between these superpowers just before it.

Mind you, the Indians were in no special mood to give the match’s supposedly central figure any charity: if this was really a football-style testimonial, aren’t you supposed to let the goodbye boy run around the proverbial goalkeeper for a beautifully stage-managed “hat-trick”?

Instead Makkie got thumped for 46 runs in his four overs, which went a long way, actually, to ensuring that India currently boast having won more cricket matches on their South African safari than they have lost: the more serious business of the five-game ODI series is the Proteas’ opportunity to turn that mildly disconcerting state of affairs around.

In fairness, let’s not forget that T20 was never Ntini’s strongest suit: he sports an economy rate of just under 10 runs to the over from 10 appearances in the format and I, for one, far prefer to harbour memories of his enormous durability, relish and athleticism in the Test arena at the height of his powers.

At least he may now be at peace with himself at last that quitting international cricket altogether is the right thing for him at 33: there were some rumblings last summer that he felt prematurely marginalised and was even suggesting some sinister undertones.

Former coach Mickey Arthur makes specific reference to the subject in his new book “Taking the Mickey”, expressing his passionate indignation that Ntini, he believed, had implied racism on the part of himself and national captain Graeme Smith in his gradual fading from the Proteas scene.

If Sunday showed one thing, in Ntini’s case like so many others in sport, it is that the perfectly natural phenomenon of ageing cannot be reversed -- even if somebody like Jacques Kallis shows freakish signs to the contrary with staggering regularity.

Also in the Mdingi Express’s defence, the square boundaries at the Moses Mabhida were predictably and painfully small, meaning a mishit might land up in Row M, and the pitch was a threat only to shins and kneecaps from a bounce point of view - thus all but eliminating a once spicy string to Ntini’s bow.

In terms of the actual mechanics of cricket, the whole experience somehow struck me as uncannily parallel to one of those rather soulless, synthetic “New Zealand rugby stadium” environments for the game, even down to the rather leaden skies.

Based on this experience, should the Mabhida Stadium magically morph into some sort of new national hub for T20 cricket?

I don’t think so.

 Once our goose pimples have settled, and the iconic Makhaya Ntini has begun his stated quest to “move on with my life and help people across a wider spectrum”, I prefer to think sanity will prevail.

After all, just down the road Durban boasts a specialist cricket venue of some renown and tradition.

It is called Kingsmead, and it is, not unimportantly, an oval ...

Read more on:    makhaya ntini
NEXT ON SPORT24X

England to name new coach

2014-04-18 20:46

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
41 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

 
 
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured Blog

The stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break, writes blogger Baylion.

Latest blogs
Vote

What was the No 1 reason for the Proteas losing their ICC World Twenty20 semi-final to India?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.