Being a purist cricket fan, I’m only a moderate fan of 20/20. But it lost a few more marks when the Perth Test was re-scheduled by 5 days to accommodate the Champions’ League 20/20 Tournament in India. Especially since I’d booked and paid for my post-Test travels according to the original match dates. And to add to my ire, the tournament then got postponed due to the tragic incidents in Mumbai. Oh, woe is me.
I was therefore limited to watching the Proteas’ warm-up games against the Western Australian Warriors at the WACA. Tough takkie. Just a few more than the population of Pofadder attended these games. The Proteas used it as test batting practice, not giving a monkey’s about results. The crowd didn’t like it, but as I told Makhaya Ntini later, the key to beating Australia is to rub them up the wrong way, and not to have terms dictated to us.
I had a chat to a few Saffa ex-pats (including Mike Rindel, the former SA cricketer, now coaching here). All said the transition has been seamless, and they enjoy the lifestyle. Well, apart from the petty laws!
I also made a friend, an extremely interesting 60-year old Aussie cricket nut. He raved about our team, and that Oz was ripe for the picking. Yet he still sledged Makhaya a few times!
So, with mixed emotions, I flew to Sydney, embarking on a week-long road trip up to Brisbane. I drove my mate bonkers, wanting to catch every possible moment of the Test, wherever we were! When Oz were 15/3 on day 1, I went mental in the car! Listening on a walkman reminded me of my school days when I would surreptitiously (try) follow the fortunes of my cricket heroes via radio while pretending to listen to the teacher rabbit on about some science equation.
Graeme Smith was impressively calm in press conferences. Whereas previous SA teams have possibly tried too hard to win here, our relaxed approach showed in our superb run-chase on Sunday.
After engaging in much banter with my Aussie mates during the game, I was overjoyed when JP Duminy scampered home for the winning runs! I went berserk in my Brisbane hotel room, waving my SA flag madly, much to the amusement of my mate!
Later, I had a few drinks at the local surf club in Noosa. The live band asked if there were any Saffas present. I proudly (and solely) obliged, to which he replied “Security!” I told him that the security was probably a bunch of Saffas, and that he could stick it!
So 1-0 up and onward to the MCG, where thankfully, I will be a spectator!
Read part 1.
This article originally appeared on The South African in 2008.