Cape Town – It has been a pretty traumatic early summer,
given the ructions over the badly curtailed Indian tour, so the first domestic
final of the season should be at least some reason for a more positive feeling
around South African cricket.
It seems a rather jarring fact, then, that Friday’s Momentum
One Day Cup Newlands showpiece -- remember that the ailing franchise scene needs
as much atmosphere and good exposure as it can get – clashes with the national
team’s final fixture of their away series against Pakistan in the United Arab
The Proteas’ second Twenty20 international date in Dubai
begins at 18:00 SA time, rather significantly interfering with the 50-overs match
(15:00 start) between the Cape Cobras and the winners of the Dolphins/Titans
playoff in Durban.
It seems an inexplicable double-booking, if you like, for
public attention in an already economically challenging environment for the
Nor is it as though the current international series in the
Emirates was too hastily cobbled together: unlike the sudden follow-up series
on home soil between South Africa and Pakistan, this particular itinerary has
been known for months.
It is difficult to imagine the governing bodies in most
other major nations scheduling a domestic final that so directly conflicts with
a match involving the pride-and-joy national side.
Saturday, you would think, should at least have been
considered as an alternative (whether daytime or day/night), particularly given
that the Springboks’ rugby Test against Scotland at Murrayfield is unusually
scheduled for Sunday.
Still, the Cobras are making a brave face of things in their
fairly aggressive pre-match marketing, despite CEO Andre Odendaal conceding to
Sport24 that public enthusiasm has been slow to take hold in the early part of
the 2013/14 season.
He is banking on cricket-lovers in the Cape “awakening” to
the campaign in a big way over a busy nine-day Newlands period that includes
Friday’s Cobras game, the floodlit second T20 of the return series against
Pakistan exactly a week on, and then the Sunday (daytime) first ODI of three.
Nobody needs reminding that the picturesque venue was the
biggest loser, despite its record for a loyal base of supporters, in the
slashing of the Indian tour.
In a statement announcing realistic-priced ticket sales
details for Friday’s franchise showpiece, Prof Odendaal said: “If the Cobras
win it will be their sixth trophy in the last 10 domestic competitions –
playing in front of a packed Newlands is a big advantage for the team, so please
come in numbers, Capetonians.”
It remains to be seen how many Proteas fans based in the
city opt instead to watch the T20 game in Dubai, which hogs the prime
SuperSport television territory of SS2, with the One Day Cup final pushed out
to SS5 as a result.
As if to compound matters, slightly unseasonal rain is
predicted at this stage for both Friday and Saturday’s scheduled reserve day
for the Cobras’ game against yet-to-be-decided foes.
It somehow sums up the “difficult” nature of the cricket
season so far ...
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