Best view in the house at New­lands is from Rail­way Stand

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION - Gas­ant Abarder

THERE are a few un­spo­ken truths about Cape Town only lo­cals know about that I’m happy to share with vis­i­tors. For ex­am­ple, the mid­dle cut of the gatsby is the piece of this culi­nary de­light you want (it’s a plea­sure!).

Also, you’ll do well to tune into John Maytham on CapeTalk for some of the best talk ra­dio on week­days at 3pm.

But most im­por­tantly, there’s the not-so-small mat­ter of where to sit at New­lands Cricket Ground. The lat­ter is go­ing to stir fu­ri­ous de­bate. And no, it’s not in the suites – de­spite all the free food and drink.

No, it’s the hum­ble Rail­way Stand, dear vis­i­tor to our beau­ti­ful city.

My bias? As school­boys we walked from Salt River to New­lands and back (to save the train fare for boere­wors rolls) to watch Western Prov­ince play in 4-day matches. We’d sit un­der those wooden chalets that later made way for the Rail­way Stand.

When my beloved Proteas re-en­tered the in­ter­na­tional scene Han­sie Cronje mo­ered a “plat-ses” into those chalets to beat In­dia in one of the first One­Day In­ter­na­tion­als at New­lands. From those very chalets I had the priv­i­lege of see­ing the great Kapil Dev play at New­lands in the twi­light of his ca­reer. Later I was treated to Sachin Ten­dulkar, Jac­ques

Kal­lis, Her­schelle Gibbs, Mal­colm Mar­shall, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mut­tiah Mu­ralitha­ran… the list of in­cred­i­bles goes on.

I was back in my Rail­way

Stand for the Test against In­dia on Satur­day. There’s a spe­cial magic about the place and it’s no ac­ci­dent it is the best-at­tended cricket venue in the coun­try.

Here, in my Rail­way Stand, you’ll hear the most knowl­edge­able cricket pun­dits and the most ridicu­lous quips and good-na­tured ban­ter. With apolo­gies to ev­ery­one who has ever in­vited me to a suite, it doesn’t get any bet­ter.

There are added ben­e­fits too. Sure, you forego the glo­ri­ous view of Ta­ble Moun­tain. But you’ll be bathed in glo­ri­ous sun­shine for most of the day. Mag­i­cally, an hour or so be­fore tea, you’ll be in shade.

With most of the seats vir­tu­ally at eye-level, it feels like you’re the 12th man field­ing on the bound­ary.

But for all my rev­elry about my happy place, I was hap­pier to wake up on Sun­day to show­ers that came down all day. We needed it. The In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil (ICC) tweeted some­thing about “pain caused by the rain” which prompted a chirp that had them DRS-re­view their poor form.

Af­ter ad­vis­ing the ICC that Capeto­ni­ans were happy for the rain, we were in the mid­dle of a crip­pling drought, there was plenty of time left in the Test for a re­sult, and not to be “kak” but “lekker”, they changed their tune.

Af­ter sev­eral retweets of my tweeted re­buke they padded up to the jaf­fas com­ing their way and wel­comed the show­ers.

At lunch on day four, with the Proteas hav­ing set In­dia a mod­est tar­get of 208 to win, the fair­weath­ers, who later cel­e­brated hard, never gave our lads a chance. There was more than enough time as that man Ver­non Phi­lan­der oblit­er­ated the In­dia bat­ting card over two ses­sions.

Of course we’d beat In­dia. Had you sat in the Rail­way Stand for more than 30 years you would’ve known too. It was writ­ten as soon as Faf tossed the ball to Big Vern. They knew. And now you do too.

There’s an­other SA vs In­dia

ODI humdinger at New­lands on Fe­bru­ary 7. See you there!

Fol­low Abarder’s mus­ings on Twitter – @Gas­an­tAbarder

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