Home Sport Cricket Pink day will still offer excitement and hope despite empty seats

Pink day will still offer excitement and hope despite empty seats

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The Proteas have been playing in playing in pink for the past few years to shine a spotlight on breast cancer. This year will certainly have a different feel with no fans in the stadium at the Wanderers.

File picture of the PinkDay One-Day International played on January 27 2019 between South Africa and Pakistan at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium. This year there will be no crowds in attendance. Picture: Karen Sandison, African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – Sadly, the ‘Pink ODI,’ will lack colour, noise and fancy dress this year.

This year is the 10th anniversary of the ‘Pink ODI,’ a concept borrowed from Glenn McGrath’s foundation in Australia and adapted for South Africa. It rapidly became a marquee event on the South African cricket and sports calendar.

However the Wanderers will be silent today. There’ll be pink banners, and outfield markings in pink, but the atmosphere of the event, like the seats at the Bullring, will be empty. Still, Cricket SA deserves some credit for trying to make the most out of nothing.

Covid-19 has so overwhelmed the news cycle in the last year, that it’s become easy to forget that breast cancer remains a battle many South African women fight quietly. By playing in pink, the Proteas shine a spotlight on a disease that, according to the Cancer Association of SA, endangers close to 20 million women aged 15 or older.

Cricket SA has sought to keep fans involved, even if they won’t be allowed into the Wanderers, through the ‘Pledge Pink’ campaign, which is being run online and where supporters are being encouraged to buy virtual match day tickets by donating on a dedicated SMS line or through EFT transfer. The pledges can be made at ticketpros.co.za, with funds going to the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

There’ll still be a game of cricket too. It will be an important one for the Proteas, who lost by three wickets in the opening match of the series in Centurion on Friday.

Temba Bavuma, following his first outing as captain, said his batsmen in particular needed to heed the lessons learnt from batting first in the series opener, and in particular how to pace their innings in the Power Play. “We didn’t help ourselves with our batting effort in those first 10 overs,” said Bavuma.

“Our guys up front are naturally aggressive, I just think the options that we took up front didn’t come off and in the end they looked like soft dismissals, mine included. I don’t think much needs to change, the options we take, we need to execute much better than we did (on Friday).”

That approach in the first 10 overs is dependent on conditions. Playing in April is unusual in South Africa and cooler morning temperatures means whatever moisture there is in the surface takes longer to evaporate, causing the pitch to be slower. “The challenge when batting first is to try and give yourself a base and then try and capitalise towards the end when the pitch gets better,” said Rassie van der Dussen, who did precisely that on Friday and recorded his first international century.

Both Bavuma and Van der Dussen said there’d be no admonishment of the top order, because playing aggressively is exactly what South Africa needs to do to be successful in the modern limited overs game.

“It’s not something that, as a batting unit, we will look back on and be disappointed about,” Van der Dussen said about the top order collapse. “Losing three wickets in a cluster is something we don’t want to do.”

South Africa fought back well with the ball after Babar Azam’s magnificent century, and that form is something they will want to continue to show at the Wanderers. Elements of South Africa’s ground fielding were very good, but again the catching let them down at a critical stage late in Friday’s match. It is one area that the players can totally control and it will need improving as they continue to develop as a One-Day unit.

@shockerhess