St George’s Park’s top brass

2013-01-20 10:00

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A special Test victory was accompanied by the cricket world’s best soundtrack.

St George’s Park will always have its tried-and-trusted brass band, just as the West Indies island of Antigua has its much-loved Chicky’s hi-fi at the Recreation Ground in St John’s.

While the band may never create quite the same party vibe that leaves people dancing deep into the night, it does give the ground a unique warmth. Who needs a DJ when the St George’s Park Band is around?

South Africa’s oldest Test venue had been starved of Test cricket for six years and band leader Bernard Leander said the return of the longest format of the game could not have been better-timed.

“It’s amazing and we always come back here. We started with the Boxing Day Test against England in 1995 and we just play what the crowd wants. As a band, we have just grown from strength to strength and we do it for the love of it,” said Leander.

“We feel that we are part of South African cricket and we appreciate the games that we get. We missed the internationals but the Warriors get our support whenever they play here.”

The band provided a special moment for Robin Peterson, who played in his first Test at his home ground since his debut against Bangladesh in 2003.

Not one to be overawed by the big occasion, Peterson said he derived a macabre pleasure from picking the ball up from the boundary.

“It’s always special to come back. As a boy, you used to sit up with the band and watch Test matches and now you are playing in front of them,” Peterson said.

“Every time I went to pick up the ball when the New Zealanders played a cut shot, I could hear some of my friends and the people I grew up with shouting. The band didn’t have a particular song but I was happy the people came out to support.”

It was a pity the other Petersen, Alviro, could not delight the Test match-starved crowd as much as Robin did.

With varying years of experience and professions, Leander, a trumpeter who’s missed only three Tests, said taking time off from his day job and entertaining crowds always fulfilled him.

He is a driver at a print company.

He says the older members cannot go on playing forever, but a young crop of players is coming through.

More importantly, the band has a social responsibility of keeping kids off the street.

They are trying to get the younger band members music bursaries.

“We are working towards the goal of the band never dying out and we hope to get support whenever we play. We are really privileged to get this kind of support from the crowd but we are trying to grow bigger and take our growth step by step.”

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