One look at the strip and it will bring a broad smile to the faces of Ben Stokes, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma and Jonny Bairstow. They will relish the opportunity to bat on the same number-four wicket again which produced arguably one of the greatest highlights of their cricketing careers at PPC Newlands.
If you rewind for a moment, England struck 629 for six on that same number four-strip on which the fifth and final One Day International will be contested on Wednesday, September 12, at PPC Newlands in Cape Town between South Africa and Australia.
That 629 for six was plummeted by England in the second test against South Africa in January 2016 and Stokes struck 258, while Bairstow produced 150.
South Africa, unintimidated by the massive total, struck 627 for seven. Amla, the then South African captain, scored 201. Bavuma, born and bred in Langa, compiled his first-ever test century and was widely applauded for his stylish unbeaten 102.
Can the expected capacity crowd at PPC Newlands on Wednesday expect a similar run festival as was the case in January (or in the third One Day International in Durban, when Australia hammered 371 for six, only for South Africa to eclipse it and managed 372 for six)?
Evan Flint, the curator at PPC Newlands, said it is difficult to predict how many runs will be par on Wednesday. He is adamant, though, that a team batting in the evening would do extremely well to chase down 270 for a win.
It is only the start of the season at PPC Newlands, and there will be movement for the bowling attacks.
Historically, South Africa has been a knockout-specialist at this iconic venue, having won 26 from 31 One Day International matches at Newlands.
Since February 2003, when Brian Lara blasted a century to beat South Africa almost single-handedly in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup, South Africa has lost only two limited-over matches at PPC Newlands – against Pakistan and India.
“I cannot put my finger on it. Perhaps the reason for South Africa’s domination in One Day Internationals is the fantastic support of the crowd,” said Flint.
“Although South Africa has already clinched the series, PPC Newlands has established a proud reputation as arguably South Africa’s best-supported ground. Last season, we saw more than 147000 supporters through the turnstiles, of whom more than 85000 turned up for the test against England,” said Nabeal Dien, the chief executive officer of the Western Province Cricket Association.
“And supporters who have turned up, have been unanimous in their adoration for the world-class atmosphere and first-class service they have received from vendors,” he added.
“We would like to encourage our die-hard fans to come the ground in their thousands to give the Proteas the encouragement they deserve. They have played like world champions against Australia. Let’s give that the vocal support which will propel them to another victory,” added Dien.