at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
I came to England and I left my raincoat behind in South Africa. It’s true. Dumb move, right? So what’s the weather been like since I got here? Miserable. I need a raincoat. Urgently.
A walk around London on Monday left me, erm, damp. What kind of country has this for a summer? No wonder they went to the far reaches of the planet expanding their empire – they needed some sun. It’s not the kind of weather in which to play cricket and, of course, everyone here is worried about how it will affect the Olympic Games. The advice to those fortunate enough to have tickets for the Games is: “Get yer winter wellies on.”
Locals are stuck between wanting to raise a smile and being friendly to all these visitors from around the world and moping about and complaining at how difficult and uncomfortable it is to get from one place to another. Then there’s the crap weather.
Everyone’s hoping the cricket won’t be affected today. The forecast is reasonable, which probably means it will rain at some point, but not all the time.
Despite all the excitement about the Olympics, the fact that this is a series between Test cricket’s best two sides means there’s sufficient hype, though probably not as much as there would be had it been five and not three Tests.
Never mind, as several players have said, it’s better than no Tests at all, or even a two-match series.
The English – the media and public – are confident of their side’s chances, as well they should be. They’re No 1, haven’t lost a series at home in six years and they want to improve.
The South African team is quietly confident. Outwardly they appear relaxed and, as Allan Donald told me on Monday night, they’re very calm and just champing at the bit to get the series started. Everyone realises what’s at stake out here, but it is not something that they find over-whelming.
“We want to be the No 1 cricket side in the world. We know we’ll be measured by this tour, and we are looking forward to being confronted by that,” said Gary Kirsten.
Embracing what’s in front of them, is all part of Kirsten’s strong emphasis on mental preparation and in that regard, he knows that South Africa are ready.
Come rain or shine, said the South African coach, they won’t be using a lack of preparation as an excuse if things don’t go their way.
As for me, well, I didn’t come properly prepared for the rain, so if I catch cold it’ll be entirely my own fault.