Give us some more New­lands Tests .... please

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUNGANI ZAMA

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.

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