THE Minstrels mesmerised the masses as they meandered through the city centre on Monday, but there was another cultural explosion at Newlands yesterday, thanks to an invasion from the annual gathering of the Hashim Amla Army.
Though their numbers have diminished from their Battle of Beer River against the Barmy Army a year ago, those die-hards who survived the winter congregated outside the stadium, along Camp Ground Road, resplendent in their cricket whites and compulsory beard.
Much like their private war, they looked on as the Proteas trampled on a meek foe, one that barely put up a scrap. Nevertheless, Hashim’s Army, led by the incomparably thirsty Corporal Scotty Young, went through their full repertoire of war cries, paying slurry homage to the apple of their bleary eyes.
They cossetted themselves in the North Stand, their eyes set fair on the rustic sight that is the brewery, then up the steep face of the gleaming mountain, their glasses suitably charged with the amber nectar that fuels their voices.
On a warm, if blustery Cape day, theirs was the background music that kept the day going, especially as Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander ran through the Sri Lankan order like a beer down Corporal Young’s insatiable gullet.
Young’s dismissive style towards a cold one tickling his face was remarkable, and he had to down one whenever his choir wobbled their way through their words. Remarkably, by tea, the indefatigable Young was still providing more resistance than the touring middle-order.
While he plundered on, the nuptials of Dean Elgar to the Railway Stand were in full swing, despite the absence of a rather important member of the whole shindig – namely the groom! It didn’t seem to concern the revellers too much, and a stand-in fellow of doughty build was put up as the sacrificial lamb to matrimonial slaughter.
The second day of a Test is usually the best day for viewing, because you generally see a bit of everything. Yesterday, thanks to good bowling and some dismal willow-wielding, those who strolled into Newlands saw three innings, as South Africa started and ended the day with the bat.
There were cheers when Quinton de Kock reached his third century in the morning, yet more morning beers to commemorate the august occasion, before crocodile tears from the bearded mob when he fell immediately after reaching his landmark.
In the form that he is currently enjoying, De Kock looked like he could have helped himself to a hearty helping of Sri Lankan buffet bowling, but he fell just as the Army were getting into their third song from their considerable collection of hits.
Alas, they had to save their voice for the Proteas’ gale force that tore through the visitors’ across lunch, into the afternoon, with Rabada getting his mojo back. By then, several regiments of the army were at their sozzled best, and some almost mistook Keshav Maharaj’s energetic celebrations for Imran Tahir, as the Proteas’ spinner also got in on the act.
And through it all, Corporal Young stood tall, the most blissfully merry of them all.