Siphiwe Tshabalala left-foot strike against Mexico brought the country to a standstill. Picture: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters
Siphiwe Tshabalala left-foot strike against Mexico brought the country to a standstill. Picture: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters

I WASN’T THERE: The day Siphiwe Tshabalala got the World Cup party started

By Stuart Hess Time of article published Jun 11, 2020

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I WASN'T at Soccer City. I wasn’t in Joburg. I wasn’t even in the Republic of South Africa.

The biggest sporting event - the biggest jol - in the country’s history and where was I? Watching Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers salvaging South Africa’s first innings on day two of the first Test against the West Indies at Queens Park Oval in Port-of-Spain in Trinidad and Tobago.

The first day was shortened drastically by bad weather with the Proteas finishing on 70/3. From 55/0 on the first day, they fell to 107/5 when Prince and De Villiers got together. By the time Siphiwe Tshabalala had scored, the pair had added 43 for the sixth wicket.

Vincent Barnes, the Proteas bowling coach, scribbled the score on a big sheet of white paper and stuck it on the dressingroom window, to keep the batsmen updated.

The partnership had reached 67 by the time the Mexicans equalised in the 68th over. The sheet was removed and not seen again. I ‘watched’ the game on a dodgy internet feed on my laptop. I shouted apparently when Tshabalala scored - which may have included some swearing.

The West Indian journos were very kind about this flagrant disregard of press box etiquette. “It’s okay man. How many times is his team going to score in the opening game of a World Cup that his country is hosting?” Indeed.

Prince and De Villiers' 122-run partnership, backed up by Mark Boucher’s 69, and Dale Steyn’s match haul of eight wickets, saw the Proteas win that first Test by 165 runs.

@shockerhess

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