Sport / Columnists

Jon Swift
2 minute read
9 Jan 2018
10:55 am

Less cricket, more wine in wake of weather

Jon Swift

It is one of those extraordinary factors in living a life of routine that when the unexpected inexplicably occurs, things tend to go somewhat pear-shaped and the conversation tends to drift into entirely unexpected areas.

Jon Swift

Such was certainly the case as the clouds rolled down the sides of Table Mountain on the scheduled third day of the first Test against India, turning Newlands into an uncomfortably damp stretch of expensive Cape Town real estate rather than one of the world’s iconic cricket grounds.

Admittedly, the initial comments over the unseasonal downpour from the usual suspects at the gathering were, as you might Less cricket, more wine in wake of weather imagine, largely self-seeking and in the greater scheme of things had little to do with the Proteas’ fightback from a disastrous 12/3 on the opening day after Faf du Plessis had won the toss and elected to bat to a fighting total of 286, or for that matter Hardik Pandya – dropped by Dean Elgar on 15 – fashioning a fighting limited overs-inspired innings of 93 to get the men from the sub-continent back into the Test match.

Du Plessis had obviously paid scant attention to the admonition of the legendary WG Grace that “If you win the toss, bat. If you have any reservations, think again and then bat. If you have serious misgivings, consult your vice-captain … and then bat.”

But all this meant very little as the heavens opened and the weather-induced vacuum brought out a positive fusillade of comments.

The most cryptic of which was a terse “Well, no water, no wine” from one quarter perhaps outdone by the observation: “We know the Western Cape is crying for rain and in the grips of a crippling drought, but why now, in the middle of a Test?”

More to the point was the interjection from a different angle that we would finish the match a quick bowler down after Dale Steyn, back with a glowingly evident fire lit in his belly, limping out of the Proteas’ attack with soft-tissue damage.

It went a touch downhill as the day dragged on and the revolving team of commentators and analysts, aided by an almost endless supply of kykweers, struggled manfully to fill an afternoon slowly sinking into grey oblivion.

One moment of levity briefly lifted the gloom when one comment suggested that a former Proteas skipper’s rapidly burgeoning waistline was perhaps an opportunity for him to approach a fast food franchise for an endorsement.

But it was just a flash in the pan as the rain continued to belt down.

But as the gathering was breaking up, there was a surprising moment of sanity introduced by a word of caution.

“Steyn missing,” said the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer, the self-styled expert on all sporting matters, “could very well cost us the Test match.”

Perhaps it was too early to make a call of that magnitude, but the sorry history of the following morning’s South African batting gave it a significant edge.