St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Poor Crowd, Dim Batting Spoils Day One of Test
Poor Crowd, Dim Batting Spoils Day One of Test
By Sbongile Dimbaza and Neale Emslie

POOR spectator turnout and a dismal first innings by the Proteas had the second cricket Test between South Africa and Pakistan off to a rocky start in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

Only a few hundred fans had turned up when the first ball was bowled in the 10th cricket Test at Sahara Oval St George‘s since South Africa‘s re-admission to world cricket.

The attendance swelled to 1 141 just before lunch but for those who did pitch up, there wasn‘t much to shout about as the home side, batting first after skipper Graeme Smith won the toss, had a disastrous morning session, slumping to 64 for five at the lunch interval.

And it never improved.

Although Mark Boucher tried hard with a top score of 35, it was a sad reflection of SA‘s batting that their best stand of the innings was 31 between Boucher and Andre Nel for the eighth wicket.

Donning black armbands to mourn the death of Proteas team manager Goolam Rajah‘s younger brother, Ahmed Rajah, who died yesterday morning after a long struggle with cancer, the Proteas were bowled out for 124, their lowest Test score against Pakistan.

Makhaya Ntini, with three early wickets, provided hope for the small crowd when he helped reduce Pakistan to 19 for three, but the experienced pair of Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf stopped the rot with solid batting.

Ntini claimed his fourth scalp late in the afternoon.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, a strong south-westerly blew away the early morning rain, enabling everything to start on time under sunny skies, but in terribly blustery conditions. Not even St George's famed band could make their mark to try to spur the home team on to better things.

EP Cricket chief executive officer Dave Emslie said yesterday‘s low turnout had been expected.

“You have to be realistic about the turnout. Kids have gone back to school and factory staff went back to work two weeks ago – there‘s no way they‘d close for cricket on a Friday. It‘s exactly what I expected,” he said.

“It‘s going to be hot this weekend so some people might go to the beach, but if the wind comes up we‘ll get even more people at the cricket. I‘m expecting between 8 000 and 9 000 today and the same tomorrow. On Monday and Tuesday it‘ll be slow again.”

Port Elizabeth is expected to reach 25°C today, with clouds and a 30 per cent chance of rain in the morning, clearing in the afternoon.

Tomorrow, the mercury is set to reach 29°C with clear skies.

Despite going out for a two, left-handed batsman Ashwell Prince, who hails from Gelvandale in Port Elizabeth, said playing in front of his family on home turf had given him an extra boost.

Speaking on Thursday before the start of the Test, Prince said it was his first Test match at his home ground.

“It is really special. But I am not saying people should expect any fireworks or spectacular performances, other than to enjoy the game because that‘s what I‘m doing,” he said.

Prince is already believed to be within touching distance of a place in the top 10 of the LG ICC players rankings for Test batsmen.

He is the Proteas‘ leading run scorer in Test cricket this season with 905 runs, (average 47,63), having hit an incredible 306 runs at an average of 61,2 in the Test series against India.

He modestly downplayed his recent performance, saying there were lots of good batsmen in the world and his ranking was merely the result of his recent performances.

Prince scored his sixth Test hundred in South Africa‘s win over Pakistan at Centurion and has risen three spots to 11th position, his highest ever placing on the list and breathing down the neck of teammate Jacques Kallis.

While in the city, he visits his mother to spend quality time with her.

Weekend Post
January 20, 2007

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