Give us some more Newlands Tests .... please
THEY both take their guard left-handed. They both play for the Titans franchise. And they both enjoy fishing.
But that is about where the similarities of Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock draw to a close.
On another grand day at the foot of Table Mountain in the first Test of 2017 this Yin and Yang pair royally married their respective talents of grit and class to ensure the Proteas hold the aces in this second Test.
“Quinny is one of those freaks of world cricket. His nature of play is not going to change very much. He puts the bowlers under lots of pressure. They tend to think they’re on top of him, and then you wipe your eyes out and he’s got fifty which is great for us,” the centurion Elgar said at the close of play after the pair had added 103 runs for the fifth wicket.
“I can’t compete with Quinny, he’s a world beater and I shouldn’t try because I’ll fail more times than I will succeed. I want him at No 7 in our team and not against us and he can really kill the opposition when he gets going.”
The Proteas dressingroom though would have been grateful for the disparate nature of their characters, and more specifically that Elgar is comfortable in his own skin, for when he and Stephen Cook walked out after being inserted by the Sri Lankans on a green tinged pitch yesterday in the marquee Test of the home summer, the stage was certainly set for a performance that required patience and determination rather than flamboyance and panache.
And even more so when Cook feathered a catch behind off Suranga Lakmal’s fourth delivery. The Newlands faithful that once again came out in their thousands was stunned into silence.
This was in complete contrast to the rapturous ovation Elgar received 68.2 overs later when, in sync with his innings, he punched the ball effortlessly down the ground to reach his sixth Test century of the career. The applause inside the famous old ground certainly resonated with Elgar.
“It’s always going to be special to me. It’s up there, especially after losing the toss and being put in. I really had to grind out there and it’s one of those characteristic innings that I tend to play,” he said before elaborating on his love affair with the a year is rude towards the Newlands crowd because they do come out and support. They do prepare good wickets, which is what we want as cricketers, and the support is also massive for us. Players feed off that. We hear the talk that it’s going to be a sell-out, and it’s great. I think it’s awesome. It’s a bit sad when you play at a smaller venue and there’s not a lot of support but Newlands has never failed. It’s always had great crowd support and there’s always good chat. It’s picturesque. As a player you always want to come back here.”
It certainly seemed that way as the Sri Lankans were suckered into the beauty of the famous old lady. They were inspired for the morning and afternoon sessions, reducing the Proteas to 147/4 at the start of the final session, but that is when the intoxicating nature of the venue starts sapping the energy levels.
Enter De Kock. Almost as if on cue, South Africa’s young gun wiped away all that went before him with an innings of such vigour that the home side are now the team calling the shots after trailing for most of the day. Lahiru Kumara would have felt the most despondent of the visitors’ attack as he ran with lots of fervour all day – one of his deliveries were clocked at 144.5km/h – but even he had no answer to De Kock when he hit his straps.
There were some hair-raising moments – he was the benefactor of two DRS decisions in his favour – but that is all part of the De Kock’s magnetism. His cameo that has stretched to 68 not out off just 90 balls has already given South Africa’s new ball bowlers Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott the platform to express themselves fully with the new ball when they get an opportunity today. FOCUSED: Dean Elgar showed all of his patience and powers of concentration to dig the Proteas out of an early hole at Newlands yesterday. His gutsy 129 put the home side in charge after a tough day out in the middle. NOTHING says cricket like a New Year’s Test at Newlands. Yesterday, in its grand old fashion, the Lady of South African cricket put on its pretty frock – with a scarf for the gloomy morning session – and proceeded to do what it does best.
There are many institutions in South African sport, but the many hidden delights of Newlands are all as much a part of the action as the cricket.
For a start, there is the lovely lady who brings precisely 500 German sausages to serve up to those patrons whose knowledge of the ground goes beyond Castle Corner and the okes under the Oaks who don’t do Cokes.
I know she exists because every veteran cricket scribe worth their weight in Bratwurst swears by this sho’t left just before the stairs to the press box.
I also know the precise number of sausages because she explained the science of leaving them (us) wanting more, but I think she also craftily avoids the afternoon traffic.
Yesterday, before South Africa lost Stephen Cook before a run had been registered, before the national anthems had been sung, and even before half the Newlands masses had descended upon the ground, we took a stop at the Bratwurst hut, for a Newlands breakfast.
Alas, there was nothing sizzling, because one of those petty sorts we all know had done his rounds and decreed her gas tube was a little longer than a metre.
How one measures gas gadgets in the face of German hospitality, I will never know, but my learned friend’s ingenious discovery of a cable-tie at the bottom of his laptop sack saved the day.
The cord was rolled up within the prescribed measurements, and the gas went on. A trip upstairs confirmed a grim looking mountain, a lost toss, and a ball that nipped about like a drunken Pokemon.
It was all happening, and a Bratwurst was needed to settle this bout of nerves. Happily, our ravenous return was greeted with smiles, and get-in-your-belly Bratwurst fresh off the gas. We smiled like boys at Christmas – or like Angelo Mathews had when he called heads – and tucked into the mustardy unctuousness.
A later circuit of the ground led to the discovery that some people simply can’t handle New Year’s in Cape Town.
A patron in the Railway Stand, no doubt still feeling the effects of one too many down Long Street, produced what the vendor charmingly described as
regurgitating his previous meals for the rest of the startled stand to see.
His untimely delivery almost overshadowed Dean Elgar’s timely ton, but not quite. The Proteas’ pocket rocket raised a thousand cheers – and as many glasses, as he reached a tenacious ton.
Good on him, and good on the Mother City for coming out to play, and sing and even Elgar reckons they ought to play more than just one Test a year in these parts.
If that means yet more Bratwurst to start each day, I fully concur with his sentiments.
Please, Newlands, some more please.