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Dolphins chiefs confident of avoiding 2016 Kingsmead fiasco

Dolphins CEO Heinrich Strydom

FILE - Dolphins CEO Heinrich Strydom is hoping to take the union to new heights. Photo: Supplied

Published Jul 17, 2023


Dolphins chief executive Heinrich Strydom is disappointed Kingsmead will not be hosting the Boxing Day Test against India in its Centenary Year, but is looking forward to Australia arriving in Durban next month.

The famous old ground hosted the Proteas’ first home Test upon returning from isolation in 1992 against India to kickstart the “Friendship Series” between the two nations.

However, Kingsmead will only host a solitary T20I on December 10 when India return for a full three-format tour during the upcoming summer. The traditional Boxing Day Test has instead been moved to SuperSport Park in Centurion with Newlands in Cape Town hosting the second and final Test over New Year.

“We are disappointed (not to host India in the Boxing Day Test), but Cricket SA have been very open in the process and we’ve been in constant communication,” Strydom told Independent Media.

“The Proteas understandably want to play India in the faster, highveld conditions and we are here for the bigger picture. Hopefully, when Australia and England come to our shores again, it will be a horses for courses approach.”

The irony of the fact is that India actually beat the Proteas by 113 runs at SuperSport Park on their last trip to South Africa 2021, while the home side’s last Test against the Indians at Kingsmead in 2013 resulted in a 10-wicket victory for Graeme Smith's men.

The Proteas will, though, be in Durban next month when Kingsmead host Australia in three T20 Internationals.

The Australian tour forms part of a wider experiment that will hopefully see the Proteas playing more international cricket during the winter.

It will be the first time Cricket SA have re-looked at playing cricket during winter in KwaZulu-Natal since the disastrous Test against New Zealand at Kingmsead in August 2016.

Cricket SA had opted to relay the Kingsmead surface in order for it to be suitable for “winter cricket”, but the desired results were not achieved after the final three-and-half days play were abandoned due to a wet outfield.

Strydom has assured that there will not be a repeat of the 2016 fiasco — even with Kingsmead having staged the conclusion of the Comrades Marathon at the venue just a few weeks ago.

“We’ve had four months to prepare. Preparing the field for essentially what is still winter, it has gone very well. We have not needed to plant winter grass, and are just using our current infrastructure,” he said.

“Sometimes when we over-think, we mess things up. Our climate does not require re-seeding. We haven’t done anything different than a normal pre-season winter programme. I’ve spoken to a few people, especially as the first concern was the Comrades, but a few weeks on and it doesn’t even look like we had so many feet through the ground.

"Our grass doesn’t die. It may just grow a bit slower in winter, but with our climate we will be fine. I am very happy with where we are in terms of preparation.”

After years of hibernation, Kingsmead also seemed to awake from its slumber during last season’s Betway SA20 where the KwaZulu-Natal cricket-loving people returned to the stadium in their masses and streamed through the turnstiles.

Strydom is confident the Proteas will draw similar crowd numbers for their three clashes against the Aussies.

“Our target is to have three sold out matches,” he said. “I am happy with the way ticket sales are going, but in true South African fashion we know our sports fans wait until the last month whilst keeping an eye on the weather.

“The next few weeks will be key. We’ll be pushing hard. We’ve also revamped the West Stand so the stadium doesn’t look 100 years old and to give our spectators a world-class experience.”


IOL Sport