Home Sport Cricket Fans back in stadium for T20 KO play-offs

Fans back in stadium for T20 KO play-offs

Herschell America of the Six Gun Grill SWD celebrates with teammates the wicket of Kyle Verreynne of the Six Gun Grill Western Province during the CSA Provincial T20 Cup 2021/22 match at De Beers Diamond Oval, Kimberley, in September. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

There will be strict protocols in place for those wanting to attend the play-offs of the CSA T20 Provincial Knock Out competition in Kimberley this week.

TUESDAY’S T20 domestic match between South Western Districts and the Northerns Titans will be the first one hosted in South Africa to be open to the public post the Covid-19 pandemic.

Given it’s mid-week in October at 10am, it’s doubtful that 2,000 people will charge to Kimberley’s Diamond Oval gates, but it’s an important first step that will hopefully motivate vaccine hesitant South Africans to get a jab (or two).

South African cricket follows in the footsteps of SA football which welcomed fans back to Soccer City last week, for the national men’s team’s World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia. As was the case in Nasrec, there’ll be strict protocols in place for those wanting to attend the play-offs of the CSA T20 Provincial Knock Out competition in Kimberley this week.

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There’ll be an ‘outer ring’ around the ground, before the turnstiles where spectators’ vaccination status will be checked. Attendees need to provide proof of vaccination, either with the original vaccine card, a print out of the government’s vaccine certificate or a digital version thereof.

Tickets for the matches cost R50, and must be purchased online. “We want fans to come and experience the new look stadium experience and we remind fans that tickets will be sold on a first-come first-serve basis.

“Due to limited capacity still and to minimise any disappointments we encourage cricket fans and sports followers to quickly get their tickets as soon as sales open,” said Cricket SA’s acting CEO, Pholetsi Moseki.

With a big tour by India at the high point of the summer, the next week provides an important set of test cases for CSA as it gauges spectator management for that bigger series.

The matches this week are all tasty affairs. Following the Pool stages, which concluded last week, the remaining eight teams do battle in straight elimination affairs, with the Titans, who struggled to secure second spot in Pool B, taking on Pool A table toppers, South Western Districts.

The Oudtshoorn side was the only Division Two team to qualify for the last eight. They played a blend of energetic and smart cricket to see off the Central Gauteng Lions and secure a play-off position.

Jean du Plessis and Yaseen Vallie are the anchors with the bat, while 20-year-old Heath Richards provided explosive hitting with the ball. Herschell America is the competition’s leading wicket-taker, and he will hope to repeat his heroics with the ball – and the accompanying dance moves – this week.

The Titans are sure to have put him under the microscope however, and no doubt their batting plan will have changed as well. In the Pool matches in Bloemfontein, they were far too circumspect, with their approach with the bat, outdated.

The afternoon match on Tuesday pits the Free State Knights against Western Province. The latter have boosted their batting by calling up David Bedingham, the right hand shot maker, who had an excellent season with English County, Durham. On paper WP, captained by Wayne Parnell, are a strong unit, with Zubayr Hamza, the batting ace, at the top of the order, and Kyle Verreynne and Tony de Zorzi lending support, while Parnell and Beuran Hendricks are an experienced pace duo.

The Knights were outstanding in the Pool stages, winning two of their three matches comfortably, with the third rained out. In Rilee Rossouw, they have an experienced and explosive batter who looked like he was enjoying being back in his home colours again.

Skipper Pite van Biljon and Farhaan Behardien are a rugged and experienced middle order pair, while Migael Pretorius, Mbulelo Budaza and Gerald Coetzee are a potent seam-bowling triumvirate.

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