JOHANNESBURG – Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Eastern Province cricket authorities are going to be extremely grateful to David Warner.
The Australian opener has turned the second Test into an event and that’s exactly what the South Africans like going to ... an event. We are not sports fans in this country - and folk in Durban definitely don’t like Test cricket (and arguably rugby, too) judging by the crowds at Kingsmead and Kings Park on the weekend.
The lack of interest in the Sharks is understandable - they do play the most uninteresting brand of rugby of the SA teams - but the lack of interest in the Proteas contesting a Test with Australia is hard to explain, unless you understand South African sports ‘fans.’
They’re not the kind to get off their couches and queue at a venue unless its an event. That’s what South African sports fans seem to enjoy - not the sport itself or the intricacies of reverse swing, a cover drive, a great fight back even, or a wonderful century as was scored by Aiden Markram in Durban.
South Africans aren’t interested in sport, but they are in an event.
So, for instance, Mamelodi Sundowns, currently top of the PSL table can play Orlando Pirates, currently second and the stadium will be only half-full.
Pirates will play Kaizer Chiefs and despite recent evidence (prior to last Saturday) that the Soweto Derby has long since stopped being an exciting match, 90 000 will pack into FNB Stadium.
It’s a big event, and everyone wants to say they were there and then prove it by taking selfies and posting it on instagram. The sport itself - well besides a handful of people - why bother with that?
Matches like the New Year’s Test at Newlands, a Soweto Derby or a big cup final - in local football terms that has to include Chiefs or Pirates - those will be filled up.
The ‘pink ODI’ at the Wanderers or any other international T20 match - with a South African team that doesn’t include any star players - are sell outs.
But that’s because those are considered by South African ‘fans’ as big events. A Test match against Australia in Durban, the first of a highly anticipated series? Well, not so much.
So, CSA and EP Cricket can be very grateful to Warner and his farcical attempts at playing tough guy on the stairwell at Kingsmead. Well done bugger, you’ve turned the St George’s Park match into a major event and for days two and three certainly expect the ‘house full’ signs to go up at the country’s oldest cricket venue.