Cape Town – Senwes Park in Potchefstroom is back in favour with Cricket South Africa for Test activity.
It will earn only its second ever match in the format next season -- against the same foes, and after a roughly 15-year gap by then -- when Bangladesh tour early in the 2017/18 summer.
Particularly vulnerable away from home, they are, with due respect, effectively the limb-loosening opposition for the Proteas ahead of appealing visits by respective superpowers India (all formats, peak season) and Australia (Tests only, late summer).
CSA announced the Bangladesh schedule on Thursday, a tour featuring two Tests – first Potchefstroom, then Bloemfontein – as well as three one-day internationals and two Twenty20 clashes.
Virtually all games are wisely set for more “northern” or “eastern” venues in the country as the Western Cape, which still attracts consistently the best attendances for international cricket, traditionally remains a wet/cold-weather risk in September and early October.
The exception is an ODI at Paarl on October 18; Boland Park last staged one in January 2013 when New Zealand pipped the Proteas in a thriller by one wicket. As a small ground, it is capable of generating full houses for SA matches and a fitting atmosphere.
By taking Bangladeshi fixtures also to places like Kimberley and East London, CSA are further countering the threat of matches taking place in vast but relatively empty stadiums in major centres.
It seems that come the season-proper, the more traditional, big cities will hog the lion’s share of action against India and the Aussies; CSA say they hope to release those particular rosters in the New Year.
South Africa, at least according to the existing ICC Future Tours Programme, are scheduled to face current opponents Sri Lankan in “catch-up” Tests again on our soil next season, but it is believed the problem of packed itineraries could scupper it.
Senwes Park has had as many as 18 ODIs previously, albeit not always featuring the host nation, but just that one Test in October 2002, when Shaun Pollock’s charges thrashed Bangladesh by an innings and 160 runs.
Their lone innings of almost 500 runs before a declaration included big centuries for all of Jacques Kallis (the man of the match as he also grabbed a ‘five-for’), Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs.
Potchefstroom is certainly worth trying out as an additional Test venue in South Africa again, given the struggle to get healthy gates even at centres like Port Elizabeth and Durban, as well as the fact that it is within reasonable driving distance of both Johannesburg (110km) and Pretoria (150km).
BANGLADESH TOUR ITINERARY 2017-18
September 21-23: Three-day tour match v SA Invitation XI, Sahara Park Willowmoore, Benoni, 10h00
September 28-October 2: 1st Test match, Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, 10h00
October 6-10: 2nd Test match, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, 10h00
October 12: One-day tour match v SA Invitation XI, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, 10h00
October 15: 1st ODI, Diamond Oval, Kimberley, 10h00
October 18: 2nd ODI, Boland Park, Paarl, 10h00
October 22: 3rd ODI, Buffalo Park, East London, 10h00
October 26: 1st T20 International, Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein, 18h00
October 29: 2nd T20 International, Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, 14h30
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