With South Africa’s great passion for cricket, the sport is a side to the country that’s undoubtedly worth experiencing. And with all of the excitement surrounding the current England v South Africa test match, now is the ultimate time to be a part of it. Set against the dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain, stay with us at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa to dive into the sporting culture of cricket in South Africa.
South Africa may attract most of its visitors for its diverse scenery and wildlife, but while the locals certainly love the great outdoors, South Africans are also known for their passion for rugby, cricket and soccer, which all vie for the title of the country’s national sport. With the present England v South Africa cricket tournament taking the limelight, this is the sport that’s in the minds and hearts of locals right now.
As the sport that’s broken down the cultural divide more than any other in the country, there’s more to cricket in South Africa than first meets the eye. What was once an exclusively white sport in South Africa became more diverse over the years as cricket organisations pioneered the involvement of disadvantaged communities, helping the move towards social and political change within the country. In 1998, this was reaffirmed when cricketer Makhaya Ntini became the first black player in the national team.
Both international tests and one-day series are held across South Africa each year from November until March, with national tournaments taking place, too. And while following the test series and tour matches (see England v South Africa fixtures and results on the ECB website) visitors also have the chance to go to the roots of the sport.
Countrywide, school cricket leagues showcase the country’s younger talent, with matches open to spectators. In these cricket schools and clubs, tournaments run from October until around April each year. And in many schools, entrance to the matches is free.
In between watching the up-and-coming cricketing talent and the country’s professionals, why not set up your own cricket game on the sand. Beach cricket is a popular pastime along the South African coast for sports fans of all ages, and has even been taken a step further with the introduction of the game of West Indian origin, Calypso Cricket.
Now going strong in South Africa, Calypso Cricket was first introduced to the country by Brad Bing, the managing director of Sporting Chance, with the intention of providing local children with the opportunity to get involved in the sport while also bringing together communities. Games now take place in various spots along South Africa’s coast as a part of the coaching and development programme.
For an insight into the history of cricket in South Africa and to find out about the country’s past sporting legends, drop by one of South Africa’s cricket museums. In Port Elizabeth, cricket fans can visit the St George’s Park History Cricket Museum in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Opened by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Cricket Union, the KZNCU Cricket Museum showcases South Africa’s cricket history and culture through literature, artefacts, and memorabilia that dates back to the 1900s.
After catching a cricket match or playing yourself, why not raise a glass to the sport in the celebratory surroundings of Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Town’s scenic shores.
Header image: Cricket is one of South Africa’s most popular sports © Steve Baty / Flickr