Time clash adds to SA cricket difficulties

2013-11-13 00:00

CAPE TOWN — It has been a pretty traumatic early summer, given the ructions over the badly curtailed Indian tour. So the first domestic final of the season should be at least some reason for a more positive feeling around South African cricket.

It seems a rather jarring fact, then, that Friday’s One Day Cup Newlands showpiece — remember that the ailing franchise scene needs as much atmosphere and good exposure as it can get — clashes with the national team’s final fixture of their away series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The Proteas’ second Twenty20 international date in Dubai begins at 6 pm SA time, rather significantly interfering with the 50-overs match (3 pm start) between the Cape Cobras and the winners of the Dolphins/Titans play-off in Durban.

It seems an inexplicable double-booking, if you like, for public attention in an already economically challenging environment for the game.

Nor is it as though the current international series in the Emirates was too hastily cobbled together. Unlike the sudden follow-up series on home soil between South Africa and Pakistan, this particular itinerary has been known for months.

It is difficult to imagine the governing bodies in most other major nations scheduling a domestic final that so directly conflicts with a match involving the pride-and-joy national side.

Saturday, you would think, should at least have been considered as an alternative (whether daytime or day/night), particularly given that the Springboks’ rugby Test against Scotland at Murrayfield is unusually scheduled for Sunday.

Still, the Cobras are making a brave face of things in their fairly aggressive pre-match marketing, despite CEO Andre Odendaal conceding to Sport24 that public enthusiasm has been slow to take hold in the early part of the 2013/14 season.

He is banking on cricket-lovers in the Cape “awakening” to the campaign in a big way over a busy nine-day Newlands period that includes Friday’s Cobras game, the floodlit second T20 of the return series against Pakistan exactly a week on, and then the Sunday (daytime) first ODI of three.

No one needs reminding that the picturesque venue was the biggest loser, despite its record for a loyal base of supporters, in the slashing of the Indian tour.

In a statement announcing ticket sales details for Friday’s showpiece, Odendaal said: “If the Cobras win it will be their sixth trophy in the last 10 domestic competitions. Playing in front of a packed Newlands is a big advantage for the team, so please come in numbers, Capetonians.”

It remains to be seen how many Proteas fans based in the city will opt instead to watch the T20 game in Dubai, which hogs the prime SuperSport television territory of SS2, with the One Day Cup final pushed out to SS5 as a result.

As if to compound matters, slightly unseasonal rain is predicted at this stage for both Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled reserve day for the Cobras’ final. It somehow sums up the difficult nature of the cricket season so far.

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