Newlands nervy on India tour
Newlands hosted the opening match of the 2003 Cricket World Cup (File)
Cape Town - Western Cape cricket bosses are on tenterhooks over the fate of the controversial, headline Indian cricket tour of South Africa this summer.
It is the same for all the country’s franchises, although Newlands is traditionally the biggest 'gold mine' in terms of spectator numbers, particularly for Test matches, and had initially been anticipating one of the busiest seasons of international activity at the venue in many years.
After a media briefing at the ground on Tuesday, where the Cape Cobras announced the exciting signature for January’s domestic RAM Slam T20 of skilful West Indian off-spinner Sunil Narine – currently the world’s top-ranked Twenty20 bowler – CEO Andre Odendaal told Sport24
the Indian impasse had "created lots of uncertainty" when asked about the logistical implications.
"Because of international fixturing, we in any case only get our final fixtures for domestic cricket quite late, and that obviously puts pressure on us.
"Ideally you’d like your fixtures before the financial year starts in April and work through the winter, do all your sales and then get ready for the cricket itself.
"But we understand the situation Cricket South Africa finds itself in and we all need to be as professional as possible in dealing with it."
Prof Odendaal admitted the international schedule Newlands had initially been given was "probably the best we’ve had in the last 10 years" or thereabouts.
"With three Indian games plus Australia (a confirmed Test in February) in one season it would have been a wonderful bonus for Cape Town cricket-lovers.
"Maybe it still happens ... touch wood."
The initial India tour schedule announced by CSA a few weeks ago had included three Tests, two T20 internationals and seven one-day internationals.
But with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) playing hardball with CSA for various reasons, there are fears the roster will be slashed to as few as two Tests, three ODIs and perhaps a lone T20 clash.
Newlands had first expected the second T20 international on November 24, the final ODI on December 15 and the traditional New Year Test (the second) from January 2-6.
Prof Odendaal would not be drawn on the likelihood that the venue would probably still hold onto at least the Test match over the prescribed, prime-time period.
"It doesn’t really help to speculate now, but we very much hope so.
"Hopefully in the next week or two we’ll get the final fixtures and then deal with that."
Justifying the recruitment of Narine, given that several franchises are under financial strain, he said: "The challenge is always to balance the books, that’s why T20 is always so important as well as (the possibility of qualifying for) the Champions League.
"The financial reward is huge in T20; it’s the difference between making a good profit in a season or trying to just break even.
"As far as we see it, you can’t really do without (an overseas star) at the moment. You have to be competitive."
Cobras coach Paul Adams said the franchise had sought an "impact" player and succeeded in landing one.
"T20 cricket around the world has asked for those type of players.
"Ultimately if you can take wickets regularly in a game you’re knocking the opposition’s hopes all the time.
"Narine bowls in pressure situations when needed and is so calm – it’s a big plus and he can rub off a lot on (the other players).
"He can really complement the Cobras.
"He’s a fairly quiet guy, but there’s lots we can tap into in terms of advantages for the Western Cape."
The Cobras/Western Province have a chequered record when it comes to the success of West Indian signings as the "overseas pro".
Carlisle Best proved a notable flop, but then Test legend Desmond Haynes also had a stint at Newlands in the early 1990s and his influence on then-emerging cricketers like Herschelle Gibbs
, Jacques Kallis
and Adams himself was enormous.*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing