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Port Elizabeth set for Boxing Day Test

ESPNcricinfo staff

February 23, 2014

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Adrian Carter, the groundsman, says the pitch at St. George's Park currently looks "very furry" and "green", Port Elizabeth, February 18
The St George's Park band may have to find some Christmas songs © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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St George's Park in Port Elizabeth is set to regain the Boxing Day Test, Graeme Smith revealed at the post-match presentation following his team's victory over Australia.

Although not full for this Test, there was a livelier atmosphere - helped, in part, by the famous band - than Kingsmead in Durban managed to produce when handed the Boxing Day encounter that was reinstated last year after being ditched in 2012 in favour of Twenty20 internationals.

Most recently that involved Jacques Kallis' farewell to Test cricket, against India, but there were relatively small crowds across all five days despite the final appearance of one the game's greats. Even when the gates were thrown open on the final day the crowd only reached 7000 at a venue that can hold 25,000. Across the first three days there was an average crowd of 9000, the best at Kingsmead in recent years, but still disappointing for a festive season Test.

It will be St George's Park's first Boxing Day Test since 2007 when it hosted West Indies in a match that the visitors won. West Indies are scheduled to tour South Africa for a three-Test tour, the first of which will be played in Centurion from December 17. Newlands will host the new year's Test after missing out in 2014.

"The Christmas Test is a premier fixture on our cricketing calendar and I hope the fans in Port Elizabeth will come out in their numbers to support the Proteas," Haroon Lorgat, the CSA chief, said. "This is always a fixture that the players look forward to and I'm sure the PE fans will make it a special and jovial occasion when it returns this summer against the West Indies."

CSA also announced South Africa's schedule for the coming year that includes a maximum of 24 ODIs against five countries in the lead-up to the World Cup. The programme also includes six Tests between July 2014 and January 2015 - two of them against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, one against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe and three home Tests against West Indies.

"Once we have completed our challenge for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next month, we will turn much of our attention to next year's World Cup," Lorgat said. "Building quality experience is a vital part of preparing our ODI squad for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The series of ODI matches we will be playing in these two countries will provide valuable experience for the players as they prepare for the conditions expected during the World Cup.

"At the same time we would want to respect the primacy of Test match cricket. The Sunfoil Test Series against the West Indies will be the highlight of our home summer. With the traditional New Year Test match at Sahara Park Newlands and a Boxing Day encounter at Axxess St. George's, fans will be in for a treat as we continue to defend our No 1 status."

CSA's schedule means Durban will go without a Test for the second time in three years, while the Wanderers, which hosted the first Test against India, won't get a Test.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Sixgun on (February 26, 2014, 17:39 GMT)

Please give us more test cricket than 6. Please schedule more. Why are we continuing to play less than Aus and Eng etc. The ultimate form of cricket. Come on

Posted by Brenton1 on (February 25, 2014, 5:24 GMT)

I was at all 4 days of the 2nd test and it was awesome. The band can be a bit annoying especially near the end of the day when a lot of less than sober spectators make their way toward the band. But ear phones and supersport commentary block out most of the noise. It actually sounds better on the tv than when you are sitting near the band. Really glad PE is getting the boxing day test. I will make sure I go every day that there is play.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2014, 17:22 GMT)

This is crazy. I would rather have a test match in Gauteng than PE - such a big test match and minimal support against Australia no less. What about the WI is going to change this? Even East London seems a better bet than PE. Bad decision full stop.

Posted by   on (February 24, 2014, 12:54 GMT)

Unless you have actually been in the ground and seen the atmosphere that the band creates you cannot speak of it! Speak to any of the players, they know best! The Saffers will tell you it is an inspiration and the opposition will tell you that it is intimidating. The band is always given rave reviews by the players. It is awesome to be at the ground and feel the passion and patriotism brought to the fore. The rendition of the SA National Anthem is spine-tingling and the entire ground gets into it. It is a crescendo. Upset by the band? Press mute. Want to comment negatively on the band? Press mute.

Posted by philvic on (February 24, 2014, 7:27 GMT)

Newlands should be given 2 tests in every series until the folk at the other centres start turning out in force for Test cricket

Posted by No.444 on (February 24, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

@SurleyCynic: they do play only one song anyway, and its awesome. Long live the band and that one cool song they play. Would hate to sit right next to them though. Must get very loud. @mmoosa: PE matched Durbs crowd attendance yes, but PE was out of holiday season and Durbs in holiday season. You sound like a Saffer and should know this but in case you're not, half the country migrates to the coast for the festive period.

Posted by droplet on (February 24, 2014, 6:59 GMT)

PE managed a fer better showing than durban has for the past few years. the atmosphere was alive - people were singing and cheering. kingsmead seems like a lazy village green match in comparison. and the PE test was not during holidays either...

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (February 24, 2014, 5:25 GMT)

bands should be allowed to play during the lunch and tea breaks..may be even during drinks breaks.. but playing so loud throughout the day makes it irritating, but there is something more important than the irritation - and that is the players and umpires missing the minor nicks which could alter the game, particularly in a test match. Rogers was certainly helped to some extent to survive that faint nick off Steyn yesterday. At one end we are putting stump mikes etc to help make more informed decisions, and at the other end allowing the noisy bands to nullify those efforts. Band lovers, don't get me wrong - all I am saying is - it should be moderated not to interfere with the game. May the noise levels should be kept a little down so that only the audience around the band stand can enjoy, but not loud enough that players get mislead.

Posted by Robster1 on (February 24, 2014, 2:37 GMT)

If SA have decided upon PE as the host for the Boxing Day test, it should be played there for the next decade at least to fully establish, as with Newlands, the fixture in the calendar. In time this should mean ever increasing attendances. Look at the excellent attendances for every New Year test at Newlands as (aside from when the wretched BCCI interfere) the public knows that each year the fixture will be held on the same dates.

Posted by Nuxxy on (February 23, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

The attendance will be better if there is enough time given to plan for it and it's during the holidays. I'm already making plans.

Posted by edgie on (February 23, 2014, 19:34 GMT)

Seriously SurlyCynic , unless u can play an instrument (and the triangle does not count), I'd leave the experts to play the music, not you... besides, i'd rather listen to them than ur boring and basless comments...

Posted by   on (February 23, 2014, 19:28 GMT)

I don't think that they necessarily are expecting 20 000 people in the ground - but I think that the atmosphere at St Georges (with the band etc around) is likely to be better than at Kingsmead - at least that's my understanding of why they chose to move the test.

Posted by biggyd on (February 23, 2014, 19:28 GMT)

PE pathetic public turnout, they should be lucky to watch cricket on telly

Posted by mmoosa on (February 23, 2014, 18:25 GMT)

Errrrr,what were the crowd figures at P.E for an Aussie test? Didnt look too impressive to me... On the Saturday there were 7500 people at St Georges for an Aussie test...thats pathetic... So we can probably expect a crowd of half that against the hopeless Windies...not to mention that Sunfoil,the series sponsors,hail from Durban with the lions share of their business in KZN (PMB)..A well the family has supported cricket for decades with their private suite at Kingsmead,,,so use Durban sponsors and money but dont host a test there over prime holiday season ...now,unless some other plan is found for a Durban test,i find the decision incredibly rude and short sighted.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 23, 2014, 18:20 GMT)

The best test crowds in SA are always the NY test at Newlands which usually sells out. Pity India didn't want to play that third test because, with local boy Kallis retiring, tickets would have been impossible to get.

I don't mind PE getting the boxing day test as long as the band take some lessons or only play one song per day.

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