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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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Starting the new year with…..cricket! 

So Happy New Year folks….so my next few blogs are going to be distinctly not running training related.   There are a couple of reasons for this.  The first is that I am taking some time out and am cheekily staying in Cape Town, South Africa for the second cricket test at Newlands…see beautiful picture:

  

The second reason is that whilst I had intended to go for some lovely training runs in the African sunshine, the day before I flew, on the 28th December, I was out running along my favourite Cornish coastal path and managed to slip down at steep rocky section, and broke my distal radius – aka my right wrist!! Not the best laid plan.
So, I am being hosted by two of my greatest friends, favourite and most generous people here in Cape Town and for the time being unable to run.

  
Aulden & Rachael at Kirstenbosch above.

On New Year’s Eve we went to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and saw Jeremy Loops sing in 2016 which was just brilliant.  But today has been Day 1 of the Newlands Test…and oh what a day.  Now I have to be careful here…my friends are serious Protea supporters, and so being the only English supporter in the group I had to be respectful when we hit one of our many boundaries. We started off on the Grass Bank underneath the Oaks by the smaller scoreboard, just in the shade for the morning.  I have to admit, the catch that claimed Cook was phenomenal.  By lunchtime I was reminded of being on an Englsih beach, as there were many English fans around us who being in sunshine customarily took off most of their clothes. I left the leery singing to the somewhat boisterous Barmy Army – many of whom were in very good voice but also looking a little roasted by the end of the day. So hot was it at lunchtime that we sneaked out of the grounds for some lunch and fine South African wine in civilised air conditioning, but we soon rejoined the rabble, just past the president’s stand to see Root hit 50, then watch Stokes and Bairstow clobber the new ball all over the shop…I managed to get Morkel to sign my cast, but to be honest judging by his scribble it could have been anyone! It truly was a marvellous day of Test cricket, and no doubt 4 more days will follow.  As my brother Nick texted my…only 400 at least tomorrow will suffice.

 

Rachael and myself during lunch when everyone is allowed on the field.  

Aulden & myself in the stands during the final session.

  
Rabada bowling a fast one to Bairstow late in the day.

  
Myself & Rachael, Sean & Wilfred.
  
The Newlands Pitch in all its fullness & greenness. 

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