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And there we have it…weather saves the day!

Day 5 at Newlands….cloudy!  Not a good foreboding it has to be said.  If it had just been me, I would have said that the bright blue sky that seemed in greater abundance than the clouds that were loitering around Table Mountain and overhead would prevail….but I was with Rachael & Aulden and they know Newlands weather and that it has a whole weather system separate to the rest of Cape Town, all to itself.  They do say that it can be clear blue skies over in Greenpoint, but over the other side of the mountain in Newlands, cold, windy and raining.  I’m optimistic, to me the clouds meant that there might be some swing, and I secretly believed what Aulden told me yesterday, that 20 wickets could fall on a 5th day at Newlands.  And I still believe it to be true – damn the pesky light failing and the rain!

So as we arrived at the ground, and began to much our breakfast snacks, and droervors the players were warming up across the field from us as usual:

  
And the sky was cloudy which Ihave to say made me feel secretly confident – I feel that Anderson would have brought some swing into his attack which might have seen those South African wickets tumble…but sadly we will never know!

  


Underneath those white clouds and blue sky it was deceptively warm and we settle down to the morning session. Yes, I was disappointed when Cook went and subsequently Hales but not rattled.  In my head we wanted to eventually lose all of our wickets, for a reasonably chaseable total – I mean who doesn’t want to see a test match go to the wire, it may not be in the players interests or intent, but as the baying crowd, we wanted some knife edge entertainment – well I certainly did. As for the Barmy Army, they sang their daily rendition of Jerusalem, and to be fairly honest after that we barely heard a peep out of them, and today were sitting almost on top of them.

Yes, as the English wickets began to tumble a little too quickly it was a tad tense in the north stand on row X, seats 55-58.  But it was all good banter.  The wickets tumbled a little too freely as South Africa held onto some quite spectacular catches and it seemed that Morris could do no wrong, catching, bowling!

You could feel the nervous tension in the crowd, perhaps by the very absence of any Barmy Army chanting, although I kind of felt our boys out n the middle could have done with hearing the odd rousing song.  However, I did manage to snaffle Bairstow’s autograph on my cast as he headed back from nets to the pavilion (potentially cutting it fine!)

Respite came in the form of the lunch break where we were again permitted onto the lunch grass of Newlands – it really is so very green and flat, you have to hand it to the groundsmen for their fastidious work. As we crossed the ground, heading to the tastier local beer tent selling decent beer as opposed to the Castle Lager, I did get side tracked by spotting Botham getting ready for the lunch break Sky sports analysis.  I dived through the crowed and simply asked him as he sat on a speaker looking at his phone if he’d sign my cast. I think if I hadn’t had my arm in plaster he might have said no, but it does work wonders, and as he signed it I did say thank you and told him that my dad thought he was a legend! And actually if you squint his signature does look a bit like “Beefy”!

   
 

So caught up with Aulden & Rachael at the beer stand, and so armed headed back around the stadium pausing at the Oaks, Grass stand where we sat on day 1…

  
And it is a good job we stopped the for the photo when we did, as the blue sky was virtually gone, and about 30 mins later you couldn’t see the top of the mountain…

  
Still ever the optimist I simply felt that this would aid our fast bowlers when the time came, and hoped that we would be bowled out by about 130-150, or if to Cook would declare and stick the Proteas in to make a meaty finish of it! I could but dream and I am sure that Aggers and the rest of BBCtms probably thought differently.  Meanwhile Aulden, Sean & Rachael were concerned that England were beginning to post to high a target for the Proteas to chase! Ooooh the tension!

However, it was impossible to escape from the ever darkening sky, and the definite feel of moisture in the air, not least because it was actually beginning to feel pretty cold.  Tea loomed as Bairstow and Taylor dug in sending the occasional ball streaming for the boundary amidst the gloom and doom of the sky.  Amla was clearly muttering to the umpires, Aulden kept muttering that they should just put the fast bowlers on and the umpires would call it, and meanwhile the spinners kept on bowling. Tea was called, and we all stood up jigging around to keep warm muttering about what the captains might decide. I swore I could see some bright patches coming our way –  but I was assured that the match was essentially over. The sky was very dark…

 
At the end of tea the raincover was dragged onto the wicket, and the almost a minute later taken off and the players came back out, for all of about 2 overs when they went off for bad light – it was very gloomy.  The notice posted on the scoreboard informed us that the umpires would review the situation periodically – hmmm.  Here I bowed to greater knowledge.  It was cold and windy, the decision couldn’t officially  be made until 5pm to call the inevitable draw that we all know was coming, and as that was still quite some time away our party left as many others were doing.

It has been a quite magnificent 5 days of cricket which has been full of everything a cricket fan could wish for, except perhaps for all those dropped catches – would they have changed the result, we’ll never know.  Double centuries, maiden centuries, highest scores, partnerships, fastest 250s, longest in the field, beer, carrot sticks, dried mango, nuts, droervors, biltong, sunburnt bodies, too much flesh, drunken singing, autographs, Barmy Army, Hashim Army, Panama hats everywhere, snack sellers, the smell of hot dogs and deep fried food, it’s been an absolute blast. I’ve loved it, and I know my dad would have loved it too.
A shame about the weather decided result – but hey, That’s Cricket!!

   
   

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Someone tell England – catches win matches!!!

What a day at Newlands was the 4th Day of the South Africa versus England test match. What a mammoth day.   We arrived as the teams were warming up, and our seats were a little closer today…

  
 …although it did mean that we were just above to the left of the Barmy Army, and directly above the newly named Hashim Army – all of whom for some reason were sporting yellow marigold rubber gloves!  See below:

  
In fact it is likely that is was dress up day, as there were quite a lot of fancy dress groups around the ground – some definitely more tasteful and wiser than others considering the heat today. We saw a Thomas the tank engine, someone in a full length wig (presumably Captain Caveman – it was a tad hard to tell), men in parasols sporting tutus and creepy masks, a man dressed as a full grown baby, a pint of beer, Snow White (I think!), and many more.  In the next photo, they are some of the fancy dressed group giving their all back to the Hashim Army!

  
The Barmy Army started commenced proceedings with a good and tuneful rendition of Jerusalem, and then proceeded to serenade the bowlers: Anderson, Broad, Finn and they also sang to Bairstow. But it was hot this morning and very humid, and both armies fizzled out abit with the slow cricket that was also taking place.  Hashim Amla’s double century was really the only thing that lifted us out of our seats during the morning.  I couldn’t even go and try and get more autographs as firstly we were in the middle of a row so it was a bit awkward, and also, I already have Moen Ali’s, and he was on our boundary most of the time.

Still the lunhbreak came, and this time a whole load of school children went onto the pitch to have cricket practice which was quite fun for them.  I think most members of the crowd took this opportunity to imbibe of the beer, as after lunch the mood definitely picked up, especially of course when Amla was bowled by Broad…if you can’t catch them out then you have to bowl them out.  With du Plessis following shortly afterwards, the mood in the crowd definitely improved and the chanting began and to be honest didn’t let up – at one point it was difficult to concentrate on the actual matter in hand, that being the cricket. Although, whenever we were able to concentrate on the cricket it seemed to be when England was either dropping a catch or letting a ball shoot through beyond the fielder’s grasp…I’m not sure that shoddy is the word I would use, but it was hard to not mock.

And then there was the quite magnificent maiden century of Bavuma. Quite ridiculous – and he gave a lot of cause to the Hashim Army to grow ever louder, aided at appropriate intervals by a South African in the row in front of us who every so often simply bellowed in a very loud deep resonant voice BAVUUUUUUUUMA. Sean, sitting next to me tried to imitate it, but wasn’t quite as effective.  His century was fantastic, even though he doesn’t look quite big enough to hold the bat, he runs darned quick between the wickets. What a privilege to watch his maiden century and for it to be such a historic one. If nothing else this test has been one of records broken and achieved which as my brother says has given me lots of “I was there moments”.

Every so often we (I mean the English fans, not Rachael, Aulden & Sean), kept thinking the wickets might start to tumble, but this just didn’t happen and that deficit kept shrinking. If only we’d caught one of those 8 missed catches!  We were of the opinion that ought that Amla should have declared as soon as Bavuma scored his century, but I’m mighty glad he didn’t – it was a tense 25 minutes or so watching Cook & Hales stay in to the close of play – and yes we all noticed how the Sotuh Africans rattled through as a any overs as they possibly could – slightly different to last night’s sat half hour 🙂

So to the 5th day tomorrow. If we’d only held onto a couple of catches, then who knows what it would look like.  It’s made the 5th day though full of twists and turns, and while some of the cricket hasn’t been the best advert for 5 Day Test Cricket perhaps due to an incredibly flat bland wicket, my goodness some of it has, and it’s been the best batting I think I may ever see.  Still, there is room for some more ups and downs tomorrow that is for sure, and I hope both armies will be in full song, I have a feeling our tickets might be quite close to them.

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