Best view in the house at Newlands is from Railway Stand
Opinion / 14 January 2018, 08:59am / Gasant Abarder
Cape Town - There are a few unspoken truths about Cape Town only locals know about that I’m happy to share with visitors. For example, the middle cut of the gatsby is the piece of this culinary delight you want (it’s a pleasure!).
Also, you’ll do well to tune into John Maytham on CapeTalk for some of the best talk radio on weekdays at 3pm.
But most importantly, there’s the not-so-small matter of where to sit at Newlands Cricket Ground. The latter is going to stir furious debate. And no, it’s not in the suites - despite all the free food and drink.
No, it’s the humble Railway Stand, dear visitor to our beautiful city.
My bias? As schoolboys we walked from Salt River to Newlands and back (to save the train fare for boerewors rolls) to watch Western Province play in 4-day matches. We’d sit under those wooden chalets that later made way for the Railway Stand.
When my beloved Proteas re-entered the international scene Hansie Cronje moered a “plat-ses” into those chalets to beat India in one of the first One-Day Internationals at Newlands. From those very chalets I had the privilege of seeing the great Kapil Dev play at Newlands in the twilight of his career. Later I was treated to Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis, Herschelle Gibbs, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan the list of incredibles goes on.
I was back in my Railway Stand for the Test against India on Saturday. There’s a special magic about the place and it’s no accident it is the best-attended cricket venue in the country.
Here, in my Railway Stand, you’ll hear the most knowledgeable cricket pundits and the most ridiculous quips and good-natured banter. With apologies to everyone who has ever invited me to a suite, it doesn’t get any better.
There are added benefits too. Sure, you forego the glorious view of Table Mountain. But you’ll be bathed in glorious sunshine for most of the day. Magically, an hour or so before tea, you’ll be in shade.
With most of the seats virtually at eye-level, it feels like you’re the 12th man fielding on the boundary.
But for all my revelry about my happy place, I was happier to wake up on Sunday to showers that came down all day. We needed it. The International Cricket Council (ICC) tweeted something about “pain caused by the rain” which prompted a chirp that had them DRS-review their poor form.
After advising the ICC that Capetonians were happy for the rain, we were in the middle of a crippling drought, there was plenty of time left in the Test for a result, and not to be “kak” but “lekker”, they changed their tune.
After several retweets of my tweeted rebuke they padded up to the jaffas coming their way and welcomed the showers.
At lunch on day four, with the Proteas having set India a modest target of 208 to win, the fairweathers, who later celebrated hard, never gave our lads a chance. There was more than enough time as that man Vernon Philander obliterated the India batting card over two sessions.
Of course we’d beat India. Had you sat in the Railway Stand for more than 30 years you would’ve known too. It was written as soon as Faf tossed the ball to Big Vern. They knew. And now you do too.
There’s another SA vs India ODI humdinger at Newlands on February 7. See you there!
* Follow Abarder’s musings on Twitter - @GasantAbarder