As I said in Jack Parow misses, but I don’t, I intended going to see the South African Cricket Team play the Indian Cricket Team in the second 50-over One Day International, at the Wanderers Cricket Stadium. I did.
Early in the morning, the skies threatened rain. But despite a spit and a spot, the weather held. I arrived with a little less than an hour to spare and was directed to a “parking lot” that some entrepeneurial fellows were guarding. Taking my camping chair and an umbrella (in case it did rain), I headed to the stadium. Earlier in the week, Highveld Stereo was warning that tickets for the match were sold out. In spite of this, numerous chancers were waiting at the checkpoint outside the main entrance asking people if they had spare tickets to sell. At this outer checkpoint, everybody’s ticket was checked and they were searched before being let through. Down to the turnstiles where our tickets were scanned, and into the main ground.
My ticket was for the Western Grass Embankment. This is a family area, so alcohol and smoking are prohibited. I entered, then looked for a spot to set up, then started heading down to the front. Before I got there, I was stopped by a staffer and told that if I wanted to set up my chair, I had to do it behind the brick line that runs through the Embankment. I could go down to the front, but I wouldn’t be allowed to set up my chair. I thanked him and headed back up the Embankment.
At half past Two the match began. In this match Graeme Smith became South Africa‘s most capped Captain. The Indian Team won the toss and chose to bat. Three and a half hours later, in the 48th over, the last batsman was dismissed for a score of 190. South African bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe showed why the selectors picked him. He had bowling figures of 4 wickets (1 bowled, 1 lbw, 2 caught) for 20 runs – his best figures yet. In addition, he caught an Indian player off another bowler.One of the reasons I went to see the game live is because TV can’t show everything. When an Indian player skyed a ball and Morne Morkel sprinted to catch it I saw both the ball coming down and Morkel getting it. TV could have shown the ball coming down or Morkel running to catch it, but not both. Also, in the first few overs, a pigeon landed near one of the wickets and stayed there for a few deliveries before flying off.
In the interval I bought pap and wors. Note to Cadac Corner: your pap was dry and there were bits of flour in mine. You hadn’t made it properly.
I finished my meal and went back to the Embankment. I was really confident that South Africa would win it. 190 is not really a defendable total in International Cricket. All this shows is that I shouldn’t quit my job to become a Fortune Teller.
South Africa’s opening batsmen were Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. Amla is better down the order and was probably only an opener because Jacques Kallis wasn’t playing. He is not really qualified to be an opening batsman. Having hit a 4 in the first over, he promptly hit one to a fielder in the second over and South Africa was 7 for 1.
Colin Ingram was the third batsman in, and he and Smith put on a partnership of over 50 before he was dismissed. During the partnership, Smith reached a total of 6000 runs in One Day Internationals. Things were looking excellent for South Africa at this point and I wondered if South Africa would reach the target in under 40 overs. Alas, it was not to be.
Things swung back India’s way when Smith was dismissed for 77. Wickets had fallen occasionally up till then, but two quick wickets fell soon after Smith went and I began to worry whether South Africa would be bowled out before reaching the 191 needed to win the match.
Lonwabo Tsotsobe was the last batsman in. Gradually, he and the other batsman crept closer to the total. I watched as the required run rate fell. Three an over, then two, then one, then less than one. Finally the total reached 189 for 9. One run to draw the match, two to win. But with more than five overs in hand, the batsman who was with Tsotsobe went for it and smacked the ball to a fielder. A huge cry of despair from the South African supporters, a roar of jubilation from the Indian ones.
It was almost half past 10 when I set off home. To my surprise, I didn’t see any Police Patrols or Roadblocks. I had expected that they would have been checking for drunk drivers, so I hadn’t had any alcohol that day. I first looked for a curry, then Thai food, then I went home and microwaved an instant lasagne.
Do I regret going? No. Even though SA lost, it was a humdinger of a match, and very entertaining. Will I do it again?