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A remarkable cricket story
The history of Cape Town, South Africa and International Cricket comes together in the story of PPC Newlands cricket ground. Voted the number-two test venue in the world by a panel of experts from The Cricketer in 2011, PPC Newlands is not only one of the oldest and most famous test grounds, but arguably the most beautiful.
PPC Newlands hosted its first test match in March 1889, only five years after test cricket was first played at Lords. Not even a country at the time, South Africa had started its journey towards becoming one of the great cricketing nations.
Australia’s first visit to South Africa (1902 - 1903) witnessed a historic six matches, including three Test Matches at PPC Newlands. The Australians proved a big attraction at PPC Newlands drawing an estimated crowd of 10,000 - easily a record at the time!
England won at PPC Newlands in 1889, 1892, 1896, 1899 and 1906. South Africa finally turned the tables in the second of two tests played at PPC Newlands in 1906, with another win in 1910. The home fans then had to wait 60 years before the next victory at PPC Newlands against Bill Lawry’s 1970 Australians.
While PPC Newlands rich history is peppered with exceptional cricket memories, it was also blemished by colonial and apartheid mentalities, which meant that for many years, only white cricketers could play at PPC Newlands for Western Province or South Africa.
A new era of modern cricket was ushered in with the collapse of apartheid and the birth of a new South African democracy in the early 1990s. With South Africa officially joining the international cricket community, a new world opened up for local fans as India—with its little magician Tendulkar— Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka and other countries made their debuts at PPC Newlands.
The dawn of this new era also marked the start of a winning streak for South Africa (SA) at PPC Newlands in both formats of international cricket, with SA winning 18 out of 26 tests and 25 out of 30 ODIs played at PPC Newlands between 1991 and 2014.
T20 cricket arrived in the 2000s. A new naming sponsor, Sahara, meant the ground was renamed Sahara Park Newlands in 2004. Local cricket fans were thrilled when Newlands was selected to host four major international tournaments, namely the 2003 ICC World Cup, the 2007 ICC World T20 championship, the 2009 Indian Premier League and the 2010 Champions League, including the opening ceremonies of the World Cup and IPL.
After 51 tests and 35 ODIs in 127 years, PPC Newlands is global cricket brand in its own right and a favourite amongst cricket fans around the world. The Annual New Year’s Address celebrates the PPC Newlands legacy and acts as a platform for discussion about the game and its future.
Special memories of Newlands
1888: Newlands Cricket Ground was a picture to be remembered, with its surrounding mass of pines, overtopped by the great table mountain on one side the new stand covered with red cloth standing out prominently against the green background. The picturesque effect given on our own grounds being enhanced by the bright and varied coloured of many Malay women in their holiday attire.
Aubrey Smith, the English captain (later a star Hollywood actor), during the first game involving an international team in Africa at Newlands in December 1888
1957: Newlands is so certainly, in the popular imagination, the most beautiful Test ground in the world that one half hopes to disagree. But in honesty one cannot. Separated from the sea and the city by Table Mountain, it lies deep under the rocks of Devils Peak. The mountain line is no distant prospect, but an immediate backdrop up to which one has to raise one’s head. The pavilion is full of flowers, the stands painted the blue of the sightscreens at Lords. If you sit among the plane trees, with your back to Table Mountain and the railway , you look across at a thick line of oaks, the people under them light as in a painting by Pissarro or Seurat. From every other position Table Mountain flowing into its foothills dominates the eye.
Alan Ross, cricket writer and poet, during the 1957 test against the MCC
2010: A new year of test cricket dawns for England at one of the most stunning venues in the world game. Newlands was shimmering on Friday morning under the shadow of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s defining feature, as both sets of players prepared for the pivotal Test of the series …
Michael Atherton, former England captain and renowned commentator, 2010.
… nothing beats a Test match played at Newlands, beneath one of the most spectacular mountains in the world’. Furthermore, watching a game here provides a perfect setting for understanding deeper things about life, for ‘…aesthetics – as the Ancient Greeks knew only too well – sets the stage for contests which are often of the most epic proportion
Rev Chris Chilvers, Canon Chancellor of Blackburn Cathedral
2011: But there is nothing quite like the moods that the mountain is able to project on to Newlands, from the flint of the sun on its rockfaces to the cascade of clouds off its summit. The colour of the Cape Town sky is like no other blue and the players appear as if in fairytale beneath it.
Mark Nicholas, The Cricketer
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