Cape Town – Just after 15:30 on Sunday, it finally became official that no play would be possible at all on day three of the first Test between South Africa and India at Newlands … creating a landmark last experienced there in 1936.
Persistent, sometimes soaking rain since early morning put paid to the middle day of the contest which nevertheless – considering that 22 wickets have already fallen – still has a healthy chance of seeing a result.
Altogether brighter, dry weather is anticipated for the remainder of the match.
If statistical trawling by Sport24 is correct, this was remarkably the first occasion since January 1936 that Newlands has seen an all-day “no play” phenomenon in a Test; a period stretching back 82 years.
That occasion, the third of five Tests between South Africa and Australia, saw no play possible on day one – but Victor Richardson’s tourists nevertheless managed, in the remaining three days of a scheduled four-day Test, to still prevail by an innings and 78 runs.
Herby Wade was the SA skipper in a series eventually surrendered by a 4-0 margin, and he died aged 75 in 1980.
Of course Newlands, like all other major venues, has had plenty of weather-related interruptions to Test play, but is clearly more blessed than most worldwide for staving off complete washouts.
Some Sunday rain had been tipped for a few days before the contest began, but just not with the level of persistence that characterised it – and ironically in the midst of the city and province’s major drought.
There have been 41 Tests, including the current one, since that 1936 fixture at the ground.
The last Newlands encounter between the Proteas and India, over the similar New Year period in 2011, was marked by a delayed start due to rain, but day one still saw 74 overs bowled (the match was later drawn).
With two days left – some extra overs are intended to be squeezed into Monday’s play, although strangely play still begins at normal 10:30 – the potential for a continuation of the enthralling levels of cricket seen in the Test thus far remains high.
Newlands is a pitch of several moods anyway, and whether its sweating under the covers during Sunday has any special extra effect will become apparent when the Proteas resume their second knock on 65 for two, and with a lead of 142.
There has only been one draw in the last eight Tests at the venue.
In last year’s New Year match, South Africa only needed four days to clean up Sri Lanka by 282 runs.
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