Cape Town – Several
potential impediments lie ahead to the possibility of SuperSport Park posting a
handsome overall gate for the first Test between South Africa and Pakistan.
already fairly obvious: the contest is moving at lightning pace following day
one, when more than 300 runs were lashed but 15 wickets also tumbled.
is the vexing question of the Centurion-based venue’s pitch, which stubbornly
clings to a recent reputation – it arguably began in earnest when Australian
thump-it-in hitman Mitchell Johnson wreaked havoc with 12/127 in February 2014
– for an “up and down” hallmark far earlier than connoisseurs might like in a
With one or
two balls creeping through at the height of a dust-buster working a grubby
carpet on Wednesday, how the surface behaves for the remainder of the fixture
remains to be seen - and may already have some home officials more than a
little nervous about possible repercussions.
weather is another party-pooper in waiting: forecasts stoically point to significant
rain disruption from roughly the middle of day three onward as the Highveld
heatwave does a little more, it seems, than simply “break”.
of those hazards are beyond human control and the Boxing Day occasion itself
earned a critical, resounding tick for finally restoring the type of gate
receipts and atmosphere befitting it in the South African landscape.
that aren’t always easy to pinpoint, this height-of-holiday date on the Test
roster – a perfect one for sport-watching relaxation, you’d think - just
hasn’t cut it at the turnstiles for many years.
Day Test, for that reason, has ping-ponged uncomfortably between coastal cities
Durban and Port Elizabeth without ever proving a viable, durable product
South Africa took the brave decision earlier this year to challenge the theory
that it is futile staging it on the Highveld in late December because so many
of its people – supposedly – have migrated to the seaside.
has the inclination, or suitably deep coffers, to make the trek on our
dangerous roads to waves and white sands over the festive season, and remember
also that SuperSport Park (always popular because of its unusually expansive
tracts of grass banks) effectively serves two major metropolises in
Johannesburg and Pretoria.
offered up eye-opening confirmation, really, that there’s no place like home to
many Highvelders, clearly chuffed into the bargain by the prospect of decent
live entertainment on their relative doorstep straight after the Christmas
reports of a “full house” seemed far-fetched for the supposedly 20,000-capacity
stadium, it looked not far off two-thirds or even three-quarters full at the
peak of the day – the fatiguing heat clearly took a toll even on the hardiest
of sun-worshippers as play advanced to the third session – and that was a rosy
development for both Jacques Faul’s host union and the senior personnel at CSA.
there was an unmistakable Boxing Day “vibe” for a change … and perhaps not only
because the local cricket public were seduced to the ground by the likelihood
(it transpired in the first session) of seeing a long-favourite son, Dale
Steyn, advance to status as the country’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.
happens from a gate perspective in the rest of this Test match, all-important
day one was quite sufficient to make it appear logical that the fixture now
earns an extended opportunity to gradually cement itself as cultural, if you like,
Put it this
way: day one’s attendance there may have been enough already to match or
eclipse the full-game figure for some prior Tests over the period at either of
Kingsmead – especially – or St George’s Park.
Keep in mind
that the current Test doesn’t even feature one of the fellow “big four” nations
as the Proteas’ opponents.
will occur next season – the itinerary is expected in the next few weeks – when
England and their beer-guzzling Barmy Army arrive for a full, four-Test series.
Day Test, assuming the great likelihood there is one?
increasingly firm bet, just based on Wednesday’s developments, is SuperSport
if the pitch can be made just a touch less sporty by then …
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