No 35: Newlands

Perhaps there are fewer things in life better than being able to relax in the sun with a cool beer or other beverage of your choice.

In cricket’s case, the sport affords numerous opportunities to do exactly that. In addition, you can do this whilst in the vicinity of some grounds that can be considered simply beautiful.

Having considered “beautiful grounds” as a piece to contribute to this blog, it struck me that there are simply too many stunning backdrops & surroundings for the game of cricket to restrict ourselves to just one topic. (plus, 500 is some way off!)

Lord’s, New Road, the MCG, the scenery of New Zealand, the number of fantastic settings are too great for me to remember them all here.

My closest 1st class ground, the Riverside, affords a superb view of Lumley Castle, which was a lovely aesthetic addition to watching Ian Bell score a hundred last summer.

I’m sure there are some utterly picturesque or idiosyncratic club grounds that would qualify too.

My personal favourite is Newlands in Cape Town. Having enjoyed the opportunity to go there 3 times, it’s the type of ground that takes your breath away 

In January 2000, I was fresh off a plane, and straight to the 4th day of the test match, to watch Shaun Pollock and his mates wrap up the tail and consign England to an innings defeat before I really knew what was going on. 

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63863.html

Having been allocated a seat with my back to Table Mountain and being somewhat sleep deprived after the flight, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the full splendour of Newlands until some days later, when we returned to watch our recent club pro HD Ackerman (now one of Supersport’s commentary team in SA) play in a first class game.

Newlands4

http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1999-2000/RSA_LOCAL/SSS/SCORECARDS/JAN/WPR_GTG_SSS_14-17JAN2000.html

With there being fewer than 100 people in the ground for most of this game, we were able to fully explore the ground, the magnificent views from the executive boxes on the top floor of the main stand, the old-world style of the members’ bar in the pavilion, with its Castle lager sold at 50p per pint in the old-style pint glass with a handle.

But it is sitting in the ground in the sun with Table Mountain in full view and watching the cricketing spectacle unfold before that you affords the greatest pleasure. I could do it every day.

And I have been fortunate enough to return in both 2005 and 2009. Neither game resulted in success for England, but at Newlands it doesn’t seem to matter so much.

Cricketing heaven.

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