November 3, 2011

Australia in South Africa 2011-12

A town with two World Cup wins

Brydon Coverdale
A Spain 2010 World Cup football jersey in Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, November 3, 2011
The Spain football jersey at Senwes Park  © ESPNcricinfo Ltd


If there was any doubt about what sort of place Potchefstroom is, the name of the cricket ground provides the answer: Senwes Park. Senwes is an agricultural business focused on grain producers, and inside the press box is a picture showing tractors, fertiliser, and maize - hardly things you'd expect at an international cricket ground.

These are not criticisms, but simply serve to highlight that Potchefstroom is no bustling metropolis. For an Australian comparison, it's more Geelong than it is Melbourne. That makes it all the more remarkable that the city, with a population of 125,000, has developed such a strong sporting pedigree.

Effectively, it's a dual-World Cup winning city. In 2003, Australia's cricketers based themselves there in the lead-up to the second of their three consecutive titles. And last year, Spain set up camp in Potchefstroom, from where they launched their triumphant FIFA campaign.

In fact, if you walk past the tractor photo and down a flight of stairs, you'll find a signed Spanish jersey from last year's tournament, a constant reminder that this is a sporting hub. The place might be short on tourist attractions, but it has world-class sporting facilities.

Sport is a way of life in Potch. As Australia took on South Africa A in their tour match at Senwes Park, kids were playing rugby and cricket on the grass embankment, soccer was under way at a pitch adjacent to the ground, and even AFL had a presence: the offices of AFL South Africa are based at the ground, part of the league's optimistic expansion plan.

Even the older gentleman who runs the guest house in which I am staying works as a tennis coach, his phenomenal tan evidence of the decades he has spent under the sun. Coming as I have from Australia, a country with a rich sporting history but now with one of the worst obesity rates in the world, it's good to know there is a place where outdoor activity is still king.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Grant on (November 9, 2011, 10:16 GMT)

And I suppose the fact that the town boasts a university has little to do with the fact that it is a bit more than just a farming community?

Posted by Talha Irfan on (November 6, 2011, 11:11 GMT)

I think it's the same place where Shoaib Akhtar wrote the history of cricket after bowling the fastest ball ever.

Posted by amit on (November 5, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

SA cricket team must take the cue & set up their camp at Potchefstroom to get rid of their chocking.

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Brydon Coverdale
Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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