First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
I made sure I could attend all the Champions League games in PE, even if it meant going alone (as was the case tonight). It was so worth it. The match was a virtual quarter-final, and while it wasn't as dramatic an ending as the Chennai v Victoria game, in some ways it was even better.
I was supporting the Warriors, just for them to make the semis. And my wish came true.
For the Warriors, Justin Kreusch was the main performer, followed closely by Rusty Theron with his awesome death bowling. Keen to see what happens to him come IPL auction time. For Chennai, Hussey on the batting side, and in the field I'd give it to Justin Kemp and Hussey. Catches win matches, as they say.
One thing I'd have changed
I was really hoping for Colin Ingram to show his mettle. He top-scored in both the 40- and 20-over domestic competitions last season, and has just been selected for the SA squad. He's having a rather dismal Champions League though.
Face-off I relished
I was looking forward to seeing how Makhaya Ntini did against the IPL team that didn't want him anymore, and also how the Warriors spinners would do against Indian batsmen. Ntini seemed pumped up, but the spinners got a bit of stick.
In the fifth over of Chennai's innings, the band started up in earnest. It got the crowd going and the sounds of cheer echoed around the stadium.
It was a bit chilly, so the crowd stayed in their seats and didn't give the players too much trouble. Ingram took a great catch at long-on, where I was sitting, but later made a bit of a botch of another attempt. He dropped the catch, almost forgot to chase after it, and having finally stopped it before the boundary, picked it up again when he was out of play. Four runs!
Shot of the day
Notable was Murali Vijay's six off Boje's first ball. Nothing says "We're going after you" like a mow over cow corner. That over went for 16. The best shot, though, was Mark Boucher's four, which got the Warriors enough runs to get into the semi-finals. The crowd cheered like the home team had won the match.
It was overwhelming support for the home team, with spots of Chennai supporters here and there. The mood was great, though. The first Mexican wave went around three times and the band meant there was lots of supportive singing going on. It really is something you have to experience live.
The day started off rather windy and cold, but there was a bunch of guys with their shirts off and "Warriors" spelt on their chests. Brave souls.
Having been to all the PE games, this was definitely the tops. The attendance was slightly lower than on the previous Saturday, but they pulled out all the stops. The fireworks were great. The DJ helped keep the vibe without any repeats (but for the Chennai theme song). The band was on song, and at one point started playing "Wave Your Flag", and most of the audience joined in.
The facilities at St George's are pretty good, so I didn't really need to bring much. Just some warm clothing and my phone to keep track of deliveries on Cricinfo, as I can't call the carrom ball from the boundary.
Banner of the day
Some female admirers of young Mr Ingram had a "Colin's Corner" poster. They also cheered loudly for him.
It was great cricket: a game that went down to the second-last ball, a brilliant vibe, and both sets of fans went home happy as their teams qualified for the semis.
Marks out of 10
9/10. It would have been better if some of my friends could have made it and if the attendance could have been just a little higher. It was Rudi Koertzen's last game umpiring at St. George's Park. After the game he did a lap of honour and the crowd cheered. When he got to the band, they sang "Bye bye Rudi, we hope we see you again". Nice moment.
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Ross Done is a 30-year old software engineer from Port Elizabeth who found cricket about the same time Jonty Rhodes flew and found Inzamam's stumps in the '92 World Cup, and has been hooked ever since. He spends his days following live match commentary and wondering if South Africa will ever produce a world-class attacking spin bowler or win an ICC trophy.
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