Home Sport Watching cricket at Newlands should not be taken for granted

Watching cricket at Newlands should not be taken for granted

Cape Town – Having been in this seat for the best part of 15 years, a certain degree of entitlement unfortunately does manifest itself.

I moan when I don’t have parking inside the stadium, or if the food in the media centre is not to my liking, and don’t get me started on when my seat is not right behind the bowlers’ arm …

I know it sounds all a bit brattish, but like anything in life, we have to remind ourselves of not taking things for granted.

Last weekend, though, I was delivered a cold reminder of the privileges that we do have access to as members of the media contingent.

And it was as simple as being able to watch live sport inside a stadium.

It was not too long ago that this was taken away from all of us due to Covid-19, and I clearly remember the day I returned to Newlands to report on South Africa v England in a T20 International series.

At that stage, spectators were not allowed back due to government regulations.

But slowly there was a return to some form of normality.

I even travelled overseas to the United Arab Emirates to cover a T20 World Cup last year, and returned home to watch the Stormers claim the United Rugby Championship crown at a boisterous Cape Town Stadium.

Cricket lovers in Cape Town, though, have not been as fortunate. The Proteas played the New Year’s Test against India this year behind closed doors, and all other Cricket SA white-ball competitions have been hosted at a single venue outside of the Western Cape since the advent of the pandemic.

There has been the opportunity to watch first-class cricket at Newlands, but let’s be honest: nobody besides some of the players’ relatives frequent those games.

So, last Sunday, when an in-form Western Province team hosted the Dolphins in a Cricket SA Division 1 clash, it was actually a special occasion which had been completely lost on me until I bumped into a couple of the Newlands faithful on my mandatory walk around the ground.

Of course, it wasn’t the same without a stalwart such as “Boeta Cassiem”, the celebrated ice-cream seller – who is no longer with us due to Covid-19 – but there were still plenty of familiar faces to share stories with on the Oaks grass banks.

Everyone I came into contact with was just so glad to finally be back at Newlands. The time away had been dreadful, and many thought the day might never come where they would see each other again.

But here they were, basking in the Cape Town sun with cold beverages in hand, and just reliving fond memories they have experienced collectively at the hallowed old ground.

For many, Newlands Cricket Ground is their home away from home. A happy place. And long may that continue.