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Newlands nostalgia

Watching England’s victory in the T20 yesterday brought back memories of my five trips to the Cape.

I first went in 1995, the tour  Mike Atherton captained.

It’s remembered for his stoic effort at Joburg’s Wanderers in the second Test when he stood up to a peppering from AA Donald and a South African spinner Paul Adams with an action so extraordinary that it was likened to a frog in a blender.

England had a reasonable side, Atherton opened with Alec Stewart and two who knew Southern Africa well, Robin Smith and Graeme Hick were in middle order.

Jack Russell kept wicket and proved himself a more than capable batter.

They had all rounders Dominic Cork and Mike Watkinson and a bowling attack of Devon Malcolm, Angus Fraser and Peter Martin.

South Africa were stronger. They were captained by Hansie Cronje, had run accumulator Gary Kirsten, Daryl Cullinan, all-rounders Shaun Pollock and  MacMillan, master fielder Jonty Rhodes , and  keeper Dave Richardson.

AA Donald was hostile and with him the metronomic Matthews.  Neither side had a world class spinner.

After two Test draws I joined the tour at Port Elizabeth.

Eastern Province Cricket Board had ploughed a lot of money into a new stadium and needing five days prepared a docile wicket. This produced another draw.

It was the fourth Test at Newlands that South Africa won and the series.

England were hammered in the subsequent ODI internationals.

Newlands is truly a beautiful ground. It lies at the foot of Table Mountain in the leafy suburb of Konstantia.

Membership of the Western Province affords entrance to its colonial style pavilion.

Cape Town is breathtaking and the wine routes, Stellenbosch and the Cape itself lie within easy reach.

South Africa had emerged from apartheid and rejoined the family of nations.

That the transition was successfully achieved without the bloodshed predicted was largely due to the healing qualities of President Mandela who was not the terrorist feared but a wise, gentle and hunourous man.

South Africans are sport-mad so readmission to global events played its part too.

Mandela and global sport were fused when the President emerged in a number 6 shirt in the World Cup in 1991.

My next three trips were not cricket orientated but four years ago I was back at Newlands as part of the Allan Lamb group.

That Test is largely  remembered for Ben Stokes’ 258.

It’s forgotten that Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers put on a immense stand and on the final day there was a near fatal England collapse.

I still have a wide scale photo of Newlands which brings back many happy memories.

South Africa is a popular destination not least as the exchange rate is so favourable.

Yes, there is crime so you need to be vigilant.

Their cricket had to suffer the Cronje scandal and the exodus of white cricketers because of the quota.

Such talented black players as Rabada have emerged and Quenton de Kock is probably the best keeper in the world.

England’s powerful T20 side had the measure of them though no canter so  no disgrace there.

I cannot wait to get back.

About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts