Mark Ford In South Africa Watching The One Day International Series And The Twenty20 Series

South Africa tourSouth Africa is home to Nelson Mandela. A country where two oceans meet, with a sunny outdoorsy type climate with amazing displays of the Namaqualand daisy including the indigenous Protea (both the flower and national cricket team). Go on a safari and see the big five (Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Lion and leopard). The home of the braai (BBQ to us, but the fire is usually charcoal), Boerewors (an extremely long traditional sausage), the Bunny Chow ( mainly found in Kwazulu Natal a curry in a hollowed-out loaf of bread, choose a quarter, half or whole), Pap(pronounced pup a maize meal porridge served at a braai with a tomato and onion gravy, or eaten with milk and butter for breakfast). Found right at the bottom end of Africa. The first country on my tour is not an island. Home to a strong cricket tradition played with a fierce passion and vocal crowd.

We have a long-standing cricketing history with South Africa and started playing against them in 1888. South Africa was isolated as a sporting nation during the Apartheid years and was welcomed back into the international cricket community in 1991. Since coming back to international cricket they have always been a force to contend with. It was in South Africa that I was officially recruited into the Barmy Army.

Second ODI St Georges Park Port Elizabeth 6 February 2016.

Port Elizabeth is also affectionately called the windy city on the East Coast of South Africa. The venue for the second clash we went into the match 1 nil up in the series. St Georges is a very picturesque stadium and the approach was a refreshing walk. The locals were very friendly and knowledgeable on the game, the atmosphere was a lively one with members of the crowd spontaneously bursting into song employing the Mexican wave and making the game very enjoyable as a spectator. Saw a young 21-year-old South African bowler Kagiso Rabada, in my view a young man to watch. Our lads were fired up and put on another good showing to win the match by 5 wickets and put us into a 2 nil lead in the 5 match series.


Third ODI Supersport Park Centurion 9 February 2016.

Centurion is just near the city of Pretoria (the administrative capital). It is one of the newer ovals in the cricket history of South Africa. So off to Centurion we go for the third ODI with a 2 nil lead in the series. So all we need to achieve is a victory here and we are home dry. Unfortunately, the tide was against us today. In this match, I saw three centuries scored, a brilliant 125 by Joe Root and here I was thinking good on you England put that in your hat, South Africa. But we were to see two marvellous centuries by the South African opening pair Hashim Amla and Quintin de Kock who got 127 and 135 respectively and between them made our respectable 318 looks a bit tatty. South Africa went on to win the match by 7 wickets.


Fourth ODI Bidvest Wanderers Johannesburg 12 February 2016.

We travelled down the road to Johannesburg, Gauteng province for the fourth of the ODI matches. We were still in a good position being 2 to 1 up in the series. So here we go again one more to get in the bag and we are sorted. Again the cricket Gods frowned on our endeavours. We got off to a good start with another brilliant 109 by Joe root and ended on 262. That young man Rabada cropped up again having the best economy rate of 4.57. When Amla went for a duck the excitement was great. But the South African side dug in and with a solid performance pulled the rabbit out of the hat and won by 1 wicket.


Fifth ODI  PPC Newlands Cape Town 14 February 2016.

Newlands in Cape Town is one of the oldest Cricket Grounds first used in 1887 and the scene of an England South Africa test in 1889 which we won by an innings and 202 runs. One of the most stunning cricket Grounds I have been to, with the magnificent Table Mountain in the background. With us being level at 2 all in the series here’s hoping history will repeat itself with another England victory. Some tight bowling by South Africa saw us struggling a bit, that man Rabada again with an economy rate of 3.77. But there was light at the end of the tunnel with a lovely 112 scored by Alex Hales. But not to be outdone on the day A.B. de Villiers delivers a solid 101 for South Africa. South Africa outperformed us on the day won the match by 5 wickets and took the series 3 – 2. Not the best Valentine present in England.


First Twenty 20 International PPC Newlands Cape Town 19 February 2016.

The twenty 20 format is a fast and exhilarating addition to the game of cricket. Get in the score as many runs as possible in twenty overs. The concept was first seen in India but has taken off worldwide. So having spent five days in Cape town seeing the sights back we go to PPC Newlands. A new start with a clean slate. A nail-biting match that went down to the last ball where South Africa did it again and won by 3 wickets.


The Second Twenty 20 Bidvest Wanderers  Johannesburg 21 February 2016.

Back off to Bidvest Wanderers in Johannesburg for the last match on the tour. Down 1 nil we have to do something lads. Unfortunately, the wheels came completely off and our batting performance was abysmal, to say the least. Best leave it there. South Africa won by 9 wickets and took the series 2 nil. Still a fan of England but had a very heavy heart. I won’t share the match video with you as it was rather blue language-wise, but I have included the end of the match interviews for you.


Sahara Stadium Kingsmead Durban 23 February 2016

After all the highs and lows of the England South Africa series, I went to Durban Kwazulu Natal to see a friend Dalene McIntosh and her husband. Living the Laptop Cricket Lifestyle allows me the freedom to take the extra few days to see the part of the country they live in. My Laptop Cricket Lifestyle allows me to have a global internet business where I can work anywhere in the world and give me the freedom to follow the English cricket team for a whole month. Dalene and I met through my mentoring service.  I had a whirlwind tour of Kwazulu Natal, being whisked off on a mini safari to the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve. One great highlight was to see the sports complex in Durban itself this included the Moses Mabhida stadium built to host the soccer world cup. But the real treat as a cricket fan was to visit the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead the home of the provincial cricket side and scene of many international cricket matches, unfortunately, it was not a venue used on my tour of South Africa so getting there was a huge plus. I even got to sample a genuine Bunny Chow.

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