Sport


South Africa's cricket grounds

When South Africa hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, South Africa, the country's beautiful and varied cricket grounds were on show, with each of them bringing their own character to the game.

The Wanderers exhibited the super-charged atmosphere of the "Bullring". Newlands revealed one of the most beautiful settings in the world of cricket, while SuperSport Park's spectator-friendly grass embankments showed off a party vibe.

Each and every one of South Africa's grounds boasts something unique and special. Take a look around the country:

OUTsurance Oval, Bloemfontein At Horak Avenue, Bloemfontein Website

Located in Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State province, OUTsurance Oval is a spectator-friendly ground, with the sizeable grass embankment on the eastern side especially popular with spectators.

It is part of a wonderful sporting complex, covering a massive city block that includes facilities of either international of provincial standard for athletics, rugby, hockey, cricket, tennis and swimming.

The ground has been used for limited-overs internationals since the fifth one-day international between South Africa and India in December 1992. The pitch is recognised as a good one-day wicket and is usually conducive to high scoring.

OUTsurance Oval hosted its first Test in October 1999 when South Africa took on Zimbabwe. It was a good start for the Proteas as they thrashed SA's northern neighbours by an innings and 13 runs.

Willowmoore Park, Benoni
Willowmoore Park, Harpur Ave, Benoni
Website

One of South Africa's newer international grounds, Willowmoore Park is a smaller-sized venue and home of the Easterns provincial team. It is also used by the Nashua Titans franchise.

Willowmoore Park first hosted a one-day international in February 1997 when India met Zimbabwe and Sachin Tendulker celebrated the new venue's debut with a century as the Indians won by six wickets, with over 10 overs to spare.

Willowmoore Park remains a one-day international venue; it has not yet hosted a test. However, it has become a more and more popular choice as an ODI ground. During the Cricket World Cup in 2003 it hosted two matches.

Denis Compton famously scored a triple century in three hours and one minute against North Eastern Transvaal at the ground in 1948. It remains the fastest ever triple century.

Sahara Park Newlands, Cape Town
Monorgan, 161 Campground Rd, Newlands, Cape Town
Website

Newlands is reckoned by many to be the most picturesque test cricket venue in the world, with the mountains shrouded in clouds overlooking the ground, while tasteful chalets and trees, impressive stands and open grassed areas grace the ground. It is also synonymous with a fantastic atmosphere.

Newlands hosted its first one-day international in 1992 when Hansie Cronje captured 5 for 32 to help South Africa to a six-wicket win over India. It was a test ground over a century before that, hosting the second test between England and South Africa in March 1889.

South African fans enjoy the fact that Newlands has been a particularly good ground to the national side in limited-overs internationals.

The playing surface is highly regarded, but that wasn't always the case. Pakistan certainly didn't think so when they were blasted out for just 43 by the West Indies in February 1993. Their woeful batting effort included six ducks!

At the 2003 Cricket World Cup, Newlands hosted both the opening ceremony and the opening match of the tournament, between South Africa and the West Indies. In something of a shock, the islanders beat the home side.

Newlands was one of the primary venues used during the competition, hosting five matches, including three category-A internationals, featuring established test-playing nations.

Supersport Park, Centurion
Cnr South and West Ave, Centurion
Website Rated one of the 10 best grounds in the world by Indian legend Kapil Dev, Supersport Park is a 20 000-seater that boasts a wonderful grandstand and superb open grass embankments. It hosted its first one-day international in December 1992 and its first test in November 1995, a match in which the great Shaun Pollock made his debut for South Africa against England.

Supersport Park has always proved to be an excellent one-day cricket ground, with a wicket that is conducive to free scoring but usually has a little in it for bowlers of all kinds. In tests, the character is different, providing a more even contest between bat and ball.

The ground hosted five World Cup matches in 2003, including two Super Six clashes.

Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban 2 Kingsmead Way, Durban Website Sahara Stadium Kingsmead is a 25 000-seater stadium located within walking distance of Durban's famed Indian Ocean shoreline. It hosted its first one-day international in December 1992, but its first test was hosted in January 1923.

Kingsmead was also home to the famous "Timeless Test" played in 1939 between England and South Africa. The match lasted from 3 to 13 March, but was eventually declared a draw amid concerns that the English team would miss its ship home!

The ground was a semi-final venue during the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Interestingly, it is widely believed that the changing tides of the nearby ocean help swing bowlers move the ball nicely through the air!

Buffalo Park, East London
Buffalo Park Drive, East London
Website

A small ground with plentiful grass embankments, East London's Buffalo Park, boasts a beautiful view with the ocean in the background.

Home to the Border Cricket Union, it first tasted international cricket in December 1992 when India defeated South Africa in the seventh and final one-day international of their series. Since that time it has been regularly used for ODIs.

There have been some special moments in limited overs games that Buffalo Park has hosted. In December 1994, Pakistani paceman Waqar Younis claimed a hat-trick against New Zealand, while in January 1999 Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper put on a fourth-wicket stand of 226 for the West Indies against South Africa. Incredibly, Shaun Pollock captured 6 for 35 for the Proteas in the same match!

The ground hosted its first test in October 2002 when South Africa thrashed Bangladesh by an innings and 107 runs as Graeme Smith hit 200 and Gary Kirsten 150.

During the 2003 Cricket World Cup Buffalo Park hosted a Super Sixes contest, as well as the match between South Africa and Canada.

Bidvest Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Corlett Drive, Illovo, Johannesburg
Website

To be precise, the Wanderers is in fact the New Wanderers. The Old Wanderers first hosted test cricket in 1896, when South Africa faced England and George Lohmann claimed 9 for 28 in South Africa's first innings to help the English to a convincing innings victory.

The New Wanderers, on the other hand, first hosted test cricket in December 1956, and its first one-day international, between South Africa and India, in December 1992. The stadium also hosted the 2003 Cricket World final.

It is known as "the Bullring" for its electric, sometimes intimidating atmosphere. High stands surround most of the field, although there is a small grassed area that is very popular with spectators. The Wanderers' capacity is about 34 000 people, which includes the occupants of the ground's 180 corporate suites.

De Beers Diamond Oval, Kimberley
Dickenson Ave, Kimberley

A nice, open ground with plenty of the grass banks that are so popular with South African spectators, The De Beers Diamond Oval hosted its first one-day international in April 1998 when Pakistan chased down a Sri Lankan total of 295 to record a four-wicket victory.

That has been the pattern in most one-day matches - high scoring. However, England's Mark Ealham managed figures of 5 for 15 in 10 overs against Zimbabwe in January 2000!

The ground hosted three matches during the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

City Oval, Pietermaritzburg Alexander Park, Pietermaritzburg Website The Pietermaritzburg Oval, a small, picturesque ground with a touch of old-world, Victorian charm about it, hosted its first one-day internationals during the 2003 World Cup.

Chaminda Vaas ensured the first match was a memorable one, capturing four wickets in the very first over of the contest, on his way to figures of 6 for 25, as Sri Lanka crushed Bangladesh by 10 wickets.

Bangladesh won't have good memories of the ground. Apart from their 10-wicket thrashing in the World Cup, they also suffered a 10-wicket loss to a South African Invitation Eleven in October 2000. On that occasion Charl Langeveldt knocked over 5 for 7 as the Bangladeshis were bundled out for just 51!

Along with the St Lawrence Ground in Kent, it is the only first-class venue that includes a tree within the boundary.

Sahara Oval St George's Park, Port Elizabeth
Park Drive, Port Elizabeth
Website

Actually The Crusaders Ground, St George's Park, but commonly known as St George's Park, the ground first hosted a test match in March 1889 - the first ground to host a test in South Africa.

It was hugely improved for the 2003 World Cup, with R11-million of the total allocation of R35-million for improvements being used on it.

Saint George's Park boasts excellent stands as well as grassed embankments. It is also famous for its enthusiastic band that is always in attendance at one-day internationals and test matches.

One of the most remarkable results achieved at St George's Park occurred in October 2001 when lightly regarded Kenya handed India a 70-run thrashing, prompting anti-corruption investigators to look into the match. It was ultimately declared a fair contest.

During World Cup 2003, the ground was home to one of the semi-finals, and hosted five games in total, including the high profile England versus Australia clash.

Senwes Park, Potchefstroom
Die Bult, Potchefstroom
Website

Senwes Park, sometimes used by the Lions franchise, is one of South Africa's newer international grounds. It was first used in October 2000 for a match between South Africa and New Zealand. Nicky Boje ensured the occasion would be remembered when he blasted an unbeaten 105 off only 93 deliveries, but the match was ultimately rained out. In October 2002, Senwes Park became a test ground when it hosted the second test between South Africa and Bangladesh. Herschelle Gibbs, Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis all scored centuries, as the Proteas raced to an innings and 160 runs victory.

The excellent rivalry between South Africa and Australia was highlighted at the ground in April 2002. Batting first, the Proteas rattled up 259 for 7 in their 50 overs, thanks mainly to 71 from Jacques Kallis and 83 from Jonty Rhodes. Australia, in reply, sneaked a tension-filled tie, ending the match on 259 for 9 after being reduced to 223 for 9 in the forty-sixth over.

During the 2003 World Cup, the North West Stadium hosted three contests, including the match between South Africa and Kenya during which Jonty Rhodes broke his hand, bringing an untimely end to his international career; he had planned to retire after the World Cup.

Boland Bank Park, Paarl
Langehoven Street, Paarl

Boland Bank Park's introduction to one-day international cricket was a memorable one. Zimbabwe and India met at the ground on 27 January 1997, with the match ending in a dramatic tie.

Surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees, it offers spectators lovely grassed embankments to relax upon while taking in a match.

Back in 2001 the ground was home to one of the biggest turnarounds the game of cricket has ever seen. India thrashed Kenya by 186 runs after tallying a massive 351 for 3, led by 111 from Sourav Ganguly and 146 from Sachin Tendulkar. A week prior to that, the Kenyans had crushed India by 70 runs after bowling them out for just 176.

Boland Bank Park hosted three matches during the 2003 Cricket World Cup and is nowadays used by the Cape Cobras franchise.

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