St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
St George's Park - Calypso Fever
January and February 1983 saw Calypso fever hit South Africa when Lawrence Rowe and his 15 West Indians arrived. They were responsible for a cricket mania never before seen in this country.
To many South Africans, only a series against the West Indians would prove that the Springboks were still world class and perhaps still the world champions after their thrashing of Bill Lawry's Australians in 1969/70.
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Richard Austin and Emmerson Trotman walk on to the field to open the batting for the West Indies at St George's Park in 1983. Against EP, the Windies batted first and made 243. EP's innings was not as good with the home side tumbling to a 158 all out to give Lawrence Rowe's side an 85-run victory.
Politically it was an even bigger breakthrough than the Sri Lankan tour. There were 12 Test players in the squad, who played 211 Tests between them - even manager Albert Padmore was once a Test player.
Once again there were months of behind-the scenes work by Joe Pamensky and Ali Bacher on the side of the South African Cricket Union and Barbados-based player, Gregory Armstrong.
News of the tour leaked before their departure, but it did not prove a dampener. The players stuck to their contracts and arrived on January 13 from New York.
The feared West Indian pace attack was brough to South Africa in the form of Sylvester Clarke, Ezra Mosely and Franklyn Stephenson. Colin Croft was hampered by a back injury, while the feared Malcolm Marshall failed to join the party as did opening batsman Desmond Haynes.
A player of Haynes's calibre was sorely missed and there were few opening partnerships of note by the "Windies" during their tour. Players like Alvin Kallicharan, Lawrence Rowe and Collis King provided the bulk of their runs.
It was a hectic tour, well-worth the description "five weeks of cricket mania" given it by Colin Bryden in the 1983 Protea cricket annual.
The Tests were shared one each and the hectic one-day series went to the Boks 4-2.
More important than this, however, was the formidable test the series provided for South Africa's players. The Springboks relied heavily on "veterans" like Barry Richards, 37, and Graeme Pollock, 38, who each scored a ton against the Windies - the only hundreds recorded against the tourists.
Kenny McEwan proved a success in the orie-day matches but the other top-order batsmen lacked consistency.
On the bowling side, Alan Kourie was again a stalwart while Stephen Jefferies proved to be the find of the series - despite a move to have him dropped at the start of the season. Peter Kirsten captained the Boks for the series - taking over from the retired Mike Procter and from Clive Rice during the Sri Lankan tour.
The Windies paid two visits to St George's Park, playing Eastern Province in a one-day match on January 19 and South Africa on February 5. There they had mixed fortunes.
Against EP, the Windies batted first and made 243 with James Carse taking four wickets for 31 and King top scoring with 71 followed by 65 from Kallicharan.
EP's innings was not as good with only Englishman Peter Willey and Rob Armitage contributing worthwhile scores of 40 and 58 respectively as the home side tumbled to 158 all out to give Rowe's Windies victory by 85 runs.
The Springboks batted first in the one-day international at St George's with Barry Richards hitting 102 and Graeme Pollock being undefeated on 66 to reach a total of 250/7.
An early breakthorugh by Garth Ie Roux saw the Windies at 5/1 and they were all out for 159 in a disappointing response to give South Africa victory by 91 runs. In contrast to the Sri Lankan tour, there were few runs on this five-week frenzy with the bowler being more dominant.
The Windies's best batting total was 309 against South Africa in the first Test - which SA won by five wickets and their worst was 118 when they lost to Natal.
South Africa's worst total was in the last one-day when they were bundled out for 71 chasing a paltry 156 for victory.Weekend Post