Interview of Cricket Fans – 75 – South Africa 🇿🇦
Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us your early memories of this sport.
Firstly, thank you for having me. It’s an honour. You’ve been doing great work. I pray you to continue and succeed!
My first memory of cricket as told by my father was the 1999 cricket World Cup that I can’t remember being 5 years old and all was me hitting the TV and crying along with him. But I think the 438 game wiped away every memory I had before that because that’s etched in my memory forever now. It was exhilarating and beyond crazy. Even now when I re-watch on it on its anniversary, I’m gobsmacked that the Proteas did THAT. I think it was the first game that my father and I actually watched together from start to finish and his reactions and expressions were the highlight for me. Seeing him jump up out of excitement is mostly what I can remember and I was 12 years old at the time and he would literally swing me around the room out of joy. My favourite memories, even today is watching cricket with the man that introduced me to the sport and just speaking and analyzing the games together.
What made you fall in love with Cricket?
It’s always been cricket, it’s the one sport that just stuck with me somehow but when I was younger I couldn’t sit still for long, I’d always just run into the room when I heard my father make a sound – either a happy scream or a loud sigh. But that all changed when I saw Adam Gilchrist on my television screen that I was completely mesmerized and to this day I can’t fully understand why. Besides his incredible glove work, it was his attacking approach with the willow that was intriguing and so pleasing to the eye. The way he could completely take the game away from opposition made for great viewing. I wouldn’t move from the spot I was sitting in until he got out and I’d throw a little tantrum and scream at the bowler whenever he got out.
Share your experience of any particular match you watched from the stadium.
I’ve watched many games live mostly at Newlands because I don’t like missing out so I’d always get my tickets the second they went on sale for the entire season, domestically and internationally. Normally I go for a holiday in Durban in December which is obviously scheduled around the fact that I should be back home for the New Years Test at the gorgeous Newlands stadium but in 2016 when England was on our shores I was fortunate enough to pop in at Kingsmead stadium in Durban on our way to the beachfront and I won’t lie, I left early and rather went to join the rest of the family at the beach because the cricket was shocking from a Proteas point of view although it was great to watch the promising James Taylor. I made it back to Cape Town in time for the New Year’s Test and wow what a game that was, to witness not just one double hundred live but two that of the legendary Hashim Amla and now one of the current best all-rounders, Ben Stokes and not forgetting hundreds by Bairstow and Bavuma. It was a real nightmare for the bowlers though, to run in and bowl in the heat without much luck.
Another intense game was the sandpaper saga at Newlands – I was there for all the days, sitting behind the railway stand (behind the sightscreen) so I wasn’t fully aware what was happening but when I got home I saw what had transpired and I was shook to my core and the next few days was obviously tough from an Australian perspective but being a South African fan there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful as the Proteas were piling on the runs and were on the brink of their first series win against Australia in SA and it was Morne Morkel’s final game at Newlands and he bid farewell to the faithful in spectacular fashion. The crowd was electrifying and such a wholesome vibe. My sister who isn’t much of a sports fan, joined us on that particular day when Morkel took 5 for 23 in the second innings making that 9 wickets in the match. On our way to the ground, we explained what “ball-tampering” is to her and she was ready to “boo” the trio and she did especially for Steve Smith because she watched the clip where he confessed to everything but fast-forward to the England vs Australian Ashes series and when he got hit on the grille by an Archer delivery and came back out to bat, she was definitely praising him. It’s a work in progress getting her to like cricket but we’re halfway there. (sorry I babbled on and completely lost track of the question)
The 2020 New Year’s Test vs England was a bittersweet one. It was my first time being in the press box but I rushed down with a friend to watch the first half-hour in the stands watching Vernon Philander steam in at his final Test match at Newlands and being from the Cape, I was pleased for Pieter Malan so the next day I obviously did the same this time to watch him walk out alongside Dean Elgar. There’s absolutely nothing better than sitting in the stands soaking up the vibe and the chants of the Barmy Army. It’s so catchy and on day 4 I caught myself cheekily singing along.
What is it like growing up in South Africa where Cricket is one of the popular sport there?
South Africans are a passionate bunch. Every year when the Proteas go to the World Cup there’s this belief deep down and it’s encouraging to see that even though the Proteas haven’t repaid that faith yet, it’s still lovely to see that the hope and support is always there. Cricket might just be a game. But it’s so much more than that to so many people. It’s like having something to turn to when you’re happy or even sad, a means of therapy and means to escape our hectic lives.
What is your view on the issues that Cricket South Africa are facing currently?
If I can describe it in one word – disheartening. I’ll always be a massive fan of cricket and in particular South African cricket. These past few months were tough with all the negativity surrounding cricket in the country. It was like a never-ending dramatic series with new “episodes” being released daily from the racism and inequality to the boardroom shenanigans.
There are deep-rooted issues within the organisation and cricket in itself but I do believe there’s a silver lining and that everything will be sorted out and the Proteas can get back to being a force in World Cricket.
But it’s time to face the facts and have honest conversations. The time of avoiding and sweeping things under the rug has passed. Accountability and transparency is the way to go and if South African cricket is to move forward serious retrospection is needed from every individual involved.
Will there be an impact of these issues on the cricketers?
I think it definitely can. If the organisation you’re part of isn’t being run properly, it surely would affect you. I can only imagine how players, coaches and more so the young talent who’s childhood dreams are to represent their country was feeling and also the administrators who were effortlessly trying to better their sport but were overshadowed due to the negativity.
It was, however, good to see that despite the mess at CSA, the players were refreshed and at their best in the recent concluded IPL. It was so great to see Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis in full swing and the latter being absolutely electric in the field as well and then there’s Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje who was an absolute joy to watch, running in as quick as ever.
South Africa is going through a transitional phase currently, mention some young cricketers who have the potential to make it big in the international arena.
The one thing South Africa isn’t short of is talent. We see that during the U19 World Cups and the Mzansi Super League was a great mirror for the immense talent we have in the country.
I think the bowling department is pretty much covered for the next few years but there are spots up for grabs in the batting department.
This is my list of current standout players in the domestic circuit.
Raynard van Tonder
I usually ask fans to share their memories of winning an ICC event their country has won, can I ask you the same question after 10 years? Can they win one trophy by 2030?
I would like to believe that they can and will. At least once in my lifetime. Just one world Cup trophy isn’t too much to ask for, is it? I’d even take a T20 trophy at this point.
Whether it happens in the next seven or eleven years I’ll be here hopeful and patient until that day arrives. I’m sure it’ll make up for all the tears and heartbreaks over the years.
Your favourite Dale Steyn memory as a fan that you would like to share.
In his 15 years long career in national colours, there are certainly many great memories such as the reverse swinging masterclass at Nagpur in 2010 and the heroics against Pakistan in 2013 at the Wanderers finishing with insane figures of 6/8 but the most special memory for me was when he got his 422nd wicket to become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in Tests surpassing Shaun Pollock 421. Returning after injury and the dreaded wait to reach the milestone and for him to finally get it after his stellar career was remarkable. I used to feel sorry for batsmen having to face him with that unreal pace.
I’ll forever feel lucky and privileged that I got to witness a player like the Phalaborwa Express with his crazy eyes and vein-popping celebrations getting out batsmen with those deadly bouncers and vintage inswingers.
Your favourite Indian cricketers?
I don’t have just one, I like Ravi Jadeja. He’s a magician in the field but mostly I like when he takes bowlers on and tonks them out the ground. And Virat Kohli’s passion for the game is great to see as well.
I’ve been a fan of Shubman Gill ever since I saw him in the 2018 U19 Cricket World Cup. There was just something about him and his technique that I was sold on. I’m looking forward to watching him grow and turn into a successful and permanent player for India.
Currently, I’m becoming a huge fan of Suryakumar Yadav and no its not just because of his name, although that’s one of the main reasons. He’s just an elegant and classy player.
Your all-time XI of South Africa and India?
I chose players that I watched/can vaguely remember. I didn’t consider stats for this at all.
Graeme Smith (c)
AB de Villiers
Quinton de Kock (wk)