“The teams have played T20 Internationals here before but this is the first time South Africa and Zimbabwe play a 50-over fixture at the oval"
CRICKET fans from far and wide are bracing themselves for a massive weekend with South Africa and Zimbabwe getting their One-Day International series under way in Kimberley on Sunday.
Yesterday morning saw the visitors putting their final preparations in place and with the Proteas due to arrive in the city later today, the stage is set for thrilling encounter.
According to the CEO of Northern Cape Cricket, Eugene Jacobs, everything is in place at the Diamond Oval for what promises to be the highlight of the local cricket season.
“Our staff have been working exceptionally hard to get everything ready as hosting an international match takes far more planning and co-ordinating than a regular home fixture,” Jacobs said yesterday.
“We would have loved a little more rain leading up to this weekend but our ground staff have really done a great job preparing the pitch and the grounds are looking great.”
Jacobs said that while ticket sales to date had not been what Northern Cape Cricket were hoping for, he remained confident that latecomers would fill the pavilions and embankments of the Diamond Oval.
He added that Sunday will not only see the city host its first ODI between the two countries but will also see one of the city’s home-grown heroes, Reeza Hendricks, make his first appearance in the green and gold in front of a familiar crowd.
“The teams have played T20 Internationals here before but this is the first time South Africa and Zimbabwe play a 50-over fixture at the oval.
“This match will also be the first time that Reeza plays in Kimberley (since joining the Lions franchise) and it is going to be a real honour for us to host him as part of the Protea side.
“It wasn’t too long ago that he (Hendricks) was watching his idol, Hashim Amla, at this very ground and while it is a real pity that they aren’t taking to the field as teammates this weekend, seeing Reeza in action should serve as proof to Kimberley’s youngsters of what can be achieved.”
Not all spectators will be backing the Proteas. Kimberley resident and Zimbabwean expatriate Dave Kirimi is among the fans hoping to see the visitors surprise their hosts on Sunday.
While not overly optimistic of his team’s prospects, he added that a large contingent of Zimbabwean nationals are sure to be at the Diamond Oval for the ODI, providing their unwavering support to the tourists.
“I’m a big fan of Zim cricket but the last time I saw the team take on the Proteas they really didn’t do too well,” Kirimi recalled yesterday.
“With all the politics going on in the country and their cricket, I am a bit worried that they are going to struggle again on Sunday.
“However, to be able to watch my home country play an international against South Africa, in Kimberley, is truly a blessing and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity.
“There are quite a number of Zimbabweans living in the city so I’m sure the visitors are not going to be short of supporters.”
Regardless of his personal preference for motorsport, the spokesperson for the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, Sello Matsie, said yesterday that he would be among the thousands attending Sunday’s cricket match as he welcomed this weekend’s international fixture, along with the various benefits it would have for the city.
“Hosting major events like this weekend’s ODI is always going to be good for Kimberley and a boost for the local economy,” he said. “Apart from ensuring that Kimberley retains a place in world cricket, it also brings in tourists who give the city a much-needed cash injection.
“These visitors are great for the hospitality industry in particular, while a match like this is always an excellent source of entertainment for local fans.”