Flea-market bargains, and Morne Streisand
Roop's tuk-tuk. Owner claims it is the only auto-rickshaw in the country. Haven't seen any other so will believe him. Innovative circular seating inside. Big enough to seat six or seven. Brought in from Thailand. With loud music and a sort of open-air ambience, it is quite the rage on Durban's Marine Parade. Like the Mercedes sign on it. Will see cycle rickshaws later in Cape Town, but this is something else.
Another late-night walk in Durban, along Florida Road in Morningside. Innovative streetlights that hang from a wire that runs along the edges of the streets. Last night in Durban. Remember how Durban cricketers describe a good cricketer. "He can play."
AB de Villiers livens up the middle overs, scoring 76 off 69, finding gaps with precision, running hard, using his feet well against spin, setting up a comfortable win for South Africa in the first ODI. Durban approves. AB can play.
Back in Johannesburg. Also called Jozi. Perhaps the least likeable of South African cities. Something about it. Just doesn't have the warmth of Durban and Cape Town, and that's not a comment on weather. The distances perhaps, which make it impossible to walk around, unlike in Cape Town and Durban. Cabs costly, eat up one's allowance. A bit like Delhi, where people live in big houses in big spaces. Would help if Jozi had Delhi's street food.
South Africa Football Association (SAFA) not happy. Reason being SABC (the national broadcaster) telecasts the cricket match live in place of the 7pm news. The same news slot that the SABC has used as reason to shift football matches to 8.30pm kickoffs. "Soccer is the sport of the poor man in our country. It is simply not fair to expect the man in the street to look for public transport late at night to get to and home from a Bafana match," says Leslie Sedibe, SAFA's CEO. Agree with the second part of his statement, after many a late night without transport.
Live choke. South Africa freeze. Absolutely freeze. It's a word to be used with caution, understandably so, but there is no other description that fits this better. Need 38 in 18 overs with five wickets in hand, and then three in eight overs with two wickets standing. Not happening. Two men cut short and wide deliveries straight to point in what proves to be the last over.
Munaf Patel, bowler of that last over, later says he was under pressure because people from his village were there. "They will still come to hotel to say bye." How different the definition of pressure for each of us.
Greenmarket Square in Cape Town. Lovely flea market. Buy t-shirts for 15 rand each. Knock-offs of team jerseys from football World Cup are the most popular. Netherlands, South Africa, Ghana. That's just 45 rand, equivalent to about US$7, or the price of transport from one block to another in Johannesburg. Duidelik.
Not to be found: light blue jerseys. That's because Uruguay knocked out South Africa's new favourites, Ghana, on penalties after a deliberate handball - a genius of a move from Luis Suárez that denied Ghana a winner in the last minute of the quarter-final. Ghana missed the consequent penalty, and then the shootout. Heartbreak in South Africa. They love Ghana so much they started calling them Baghana Baghana, after their home team, Bafana Bafana. The nation then turned against Uruguay. A front-page photo awaited anyone wearing a light blue shirt on the fan-walk on semi-final day. No one did.
Taxi in Cape Town means mini-bus. Take one back from Newlands, a suburb, to town. "Taxi gachi" is the name for the conductor in these mini-buses. "Claremont-Mowbray-Cape Town" said in singsong is a common taxi-gachi cry in Cape Town. Don't like their urge to fill those taxis with as many human beings as possible.
Going to the cricket in Cape Town is an experience. Begins with the walk to the Cape Town train station. Unlike Mumbai, where people take trains from the suburbs to town, to either Wankhede or Brabourne, here one goes from town to suburbs. Team jerseys, flags, beer, coolers, sunscreen, dressed-up people, give the Metro a colourful appearance. And it's not a bad ground to go to, is Newlands.
At the cricket, Yusuf Pathan bats with ridiculous ease on a pitch on which everyone else struggles. Hits Johan Botha for three sixes in one over. Helps India chase 221.
Port Elizabeth. Earthiest of cities, never mind the Indian Ocean almost all around. No make-believe. Old buildings have stayed old. Some call it the forgotten city, some the friendly city. Both could be true, especially the latter.
Accent gets thicker moving from the Western Cape to the Eastern. When they don't like something, they say, "Na, bru, na." When they like it, "Nna" with a click and in a deep, guttural voice. Works when bargaining in the flea market. Keep saying "Na, bru, na" until the price is right. Nna.
Time for another MS Dhoni classic. Asked just why is it that the ball starts moving under the lights. Says: "Frankly speaking, I don't know too much about it. I never used to watch cricket a lot. I have never watched a full 50-over game, but I have always seen the commentators saying that the lights are on and it will do a bit. Frankly it does do a bit more. Scientifically I don't know."
PE is the land of Chevrolets - and many other car manufacturers. Notice many old Volkswagen Beetles. Loud but the real deal. Chevrolet sponsor the local team, the Chevrolet Warriors. Have placed one car in the stands, behind the square-leg boundary. Any batsman who hits it gets the car. Sadly it has been there for four years and not many have come close.
As the game starts, without power in the ground, the famous PE band, much in Sri Lankan style, livens up the stadium. No national anthems before the match because of power cut, but the band plays the South Africa one even as the match continues.
JP Duminy scores just two fours and a six in his 71, most of them with the tail, and sets up a series-equalising win. "JP, jou lekker ding," says PE.
"Barbara Streisand" by Duck Sauce. Track of the season. Remix of "Gotta Go Home" by Boney M, with "Barbara Streisand" thrown in every 30 or 40 seconds. All over the place - clubs, cabs, cricket. It's the cricket version that is most enjoyable. Morne Morkel has it as his entry music. The local DJ has mixed it so that every time they are supposed to say Barbra Streisand, they say "Morne Morkel". Pretty cool.
Last Dance With Mary Jane. One final day of a memorable tour. Hashim Amla and Yusuf Pathan make it more memorable with contrasting centuries, the first of the series. Morkel's four wickets prove to be the difference in the end, winning South Africa the series, and himself the Man-of-the-Series award. New DJ at the ground. Doesn't play Morkel's song. Morkel later says he is disappointed he didn't get to hear it.
Stay for a bit at the ground to finish wrap. Suddenly farewells start flowing. It's all over here at SuperSport Park. Fittingly the last song played in the hospitality suites in "Save Tonight".
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo