More magic at the ‘Moses’

2010-09-04 00:00

AH, the green grass and pyjama outfits are making a return.

The manicured outfield and the precisely squared brownish bit are back on the agenda.

Look, I love my soccer, but it is mighty nice to get back to my bread and butter of bat and ball.

I’m all soccered out, to be honest. Actually, I am not supposed to use that word.

Certain influential folks in the office have deemed the quaint American term of “soccer” to be almost as colourful as a Kevin Pietersen tweet.

So before I get a written warning for splashing profanities all over innocent weekend newspapers, let’s just get back to the cricket.

Well, sort of.

You see, Kingsmead resembles a campsite after the holiday season somewhat, and the Champions League is just days away.

I suppose that is what you get for letting thousands of Aussies run riot on it for a month. Then again, those same whingeing kangaroos drowned their sorrows to the happy tune of local tills coining it, so we really ought to not complain too much for their company.

All told, Kingsmead will not be at its best for the first half of the season, but it will certainly have reaped the reward of Aussie dollars to soothe the headache.

And besides, Durban now has an alternative international cricket venue.

Why, this one even has a fancy arch and the not-so-outlandish claim of being the most eye-catching new building in the land.

Yes, folks, the Moses Mabhida Stadium is branching out into other avenues.

While the likes of Soccer City, I mean National Stad... - no, no it’s actually named after a bank now - oh, you know what I mean.

The calabash-like amphitheatre in Soweto offers anything from concerts to funerals, but the modest ”Moses” will host an altogether more celebratory Twenty20 international in the New Year, January 9 to be exact.

It might seem ages away now, but it was just the other day that we were all dancing to Shakira like teenagers.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, but perhaps you should make a note and make a plan to join the 60 000 fanatics who will flock to see mindless bashing in beautiful surrounds.

Tickets are bound to sell as briskly as vuvuzelas at a World Cup convention.

I can hardly wait.

India and South Africa hardly need an invitation to thrash it about anyway, and you can just imagine Virender Sehwag trying his best to carve one onto the arch.

He would, wouldn’t he?

Of course, before we reach that blissful day, there is much work to be done preparing a strip.

I bumped into pitch guru Phil Russell during the week, and the former Kingsmead expert has been tasked with preparing a worthy table for the hit and giggle.

Already the bully and clay has been laid, he says. Quite what that means, I have no idea. I didn’t have the heart to admit it to him, but my knowledge of preparing cricket pitches goes as far as falling asleep at the wheel of a heavy roller while still playing cricket in Cheshire.

Besides almost killing half the junior side — and maybe myself — that experience told me that I was probably better off as far away from the middle as possible.

Hence the writing career, I suppose.

Anyway, Russell is quietly confident that he can produce a decent track. This is no “drop-in” affair, like the ones used in the Antipodes every now and then on rugby fields.

Nope, this is a pitch that will stick around, and one can be sure that if 9 January is even a moderate success, the Proteas, Dolphins and whoever else owning a bat, ball and big bucks will be back for another thrash.

That’s if Russell can be given a chance to work on it properly.

He was slightly miffed by the Wallabies’ pack that left some rather messy excavations after their practices at the stadium this week, ahead of today’s Tri-Nations match in Bloemfontein.

You just can’t take these Aussies anywhere, can you?

There are other issues to iron out, of course, but Russell is already looking forward to the carnage that will occur on a field that will have 55 metre square boundaries.

What does that mean, you say.

Well, that’s half a wedge in golf terms - unless you shank it. In modern cricket, it is a mere flick of the wrists. If Sehwag or Albie Morkel catches one in the screws, the officials may need a bungee-jumper to dislodge it from the arch itself.

It all points to a summer full of breathless bliss, and very little mention of all things soccer.


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