Cape Town – It has often been described as
a “fortress” for South Africa and is the favourite ground in the country for
many Proteas players.
Modern records in both the Test and one-day
international formats go a long way to explaining that fondness: only one defeat
in the last 14 five-day scraps there, and 11 wins out of the last 13 ODIs.
But Newlands is notably not the happiest of
hunting grounds for the host nation in the short history of Twenty20 activity –
SA have lost all of their last three matches in the format there.
Their overall record currently still stands
in negative territory: played five, won two, lost three.
So when they tackle England in the first of
two KFC T20 internationals on Friday (18:00), they will not only be seeking to
ensure they cannot be beaten in the mini-series, but also perk up their record
to a 50 percent one at the venue.
The Proteas have at least beaten England
previously in the format at Newlands; it was their last victory there in
September 2007, during the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 event.
Graeme Smith’s then-charges won by 19 runs
after restricting the side led by Paul Collingwood to 135 for seven in reply to
their 154 for eight.
The SA team on Friday is likely to feature
two survivors from that encounter – AB de Villiers and JP Duminy – whereas
England will be a wholly different line-up from then.
But the Proteas have had strangely leaner
times at Newlands in T20 clashes since then, with successive defeats to
Australia (October 2011, by five wickets), Pakistan (November 2013, by six
runs) and West Indies (January 2015, by four wickets).
Last season’s reverse at the hands of the
Windies was marked by one of those formidable “explosions” by Chris Gayle, who
plundered 77 off 31 balls with 68 of those runs in boundaries, including eight
Generally, though, Newlands tends to call
for intelligent rather than overly cavalier cricket at T20 level, particularly
for matches involving night play.
Only six times in the 24 T20 innings played
at the ground has the total exceeded the 150-mark, with the best effort thus
far being England’s 188 for nine against Zimbabwe during the World T20 some
nine years ago.
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing