10 Fun Facts About South African Cricket

4 September 2020 |

Cricket has been a favourite sport in South Africa for centuries. Below we have covered some fun facts about South African Cricket for you:

1. The longest cricket Test match of all time was between South Africa and England.

In 1939, between the 3rd and 14th of March, SA and England battled it out in a timeless test in Durban. It carried on for 10 days (although the teams only actually played for nine days – play was called off on the eighth day due to rain). In total, the match lasted 43 hours 16 minutes. By the end, the teams amassed a combined sum of 1,981 runs.

The match would have gone on even longer had the England team’s ship not been leaving the next day. There was no choice but to conclude the match and declare a draw.

2. The world records for the fastest ODI fifty, century, and 150 by any batsman all belong to one South African.

Cricketer and former Proteas team member AB de Villiers holds standing world records for the fastest fifty, hundred, and 150 in the history of One Day Internationals. The outstanding batsman achieved fifty runs in 16 deliveries, a hundred in 31, and 150 in 64 in three separate ODIs.
De Villiers also holds the record for the fastest century in Tests by a South African.

3. The oldest cricket ground in SA lies in Port Elizabeth.

A test match between South Africa and England way back in 1888 was the first cricket game held at St George’s Park. It was also the first-ever test match held outside of England or Australia. South Africa lost to England by eight wickets.

St George’s was also where South Africa played their last test match (in 1969) before their 22-year ban from international test cricket due to apartheid.

4. The Proteas once went by a different name.

Originally South Africa’s national cricket team were the Springboks. This changed when the ICC lifted SA’s ban from international cricket in 1991. From then the team became known as the Proteas.

5. South Africa’s loss in the 1992 World Cup semi-final is the reason the Duckworth-Lewis method exists.

The heavens opened in Sydney during the SA versus England semi-final. The umpires halted play for 12 minutes, throwing everything off-kilter for the Proteas. The team needed to get 22 runs from 13 balls before the rain. However, thanks to a flawed rain rule and lack of time, once play resumed the scoreboard announced that SA would need 21 runs in just one ball to win. Naturally, this was unachievable, and the Proteas lost.

This game showed that a better method was needed to calculate run targets in limited-overs matches shortened by rain. This led to English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis devising a mathematical formula, the Duckworth-Lewis method. They designed the method to be as fair as possible and the ICC approved it in 1999. Cricket games still use this method today, although now it has been renamed the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.

6. South Africa hosted the first Cricket World Cup to have an official mascot.

When South Africa staged the 2003 Cricket World Cup, it introduced its mascot, a zebra by the name of Dazzler. This was the first time an ICC Cricket World Cup had featured an official mascot.

7. Two Proteas players wore earpieces to receive advice from their coach at the 1999 World Cup opener.

The then-Proteas coach Bob Woolmer was known for being pioneering. He decided to try using the earpieces so that he could offer advice to the players who wore them. The players were Allan Donald, the team pacer, and Hansie Cronje, the skipper. Woolmer had not asked the ICC’s permission to use the small devices in the game and had likely hoped they would go unnoticed.

Although the earpieces weren’t technically illegal, the game’s referee, Talat Ali, ruled that the players remove them.

The ICC banned earpieces from matches soon after.

8. In 2006, South Africa beat Australia in a game that many have hailed as the best One Day International cricket match ever played.

SA and Australia broke several world records in cricket on 12 March 2006. It was the day of the 5th ODI game between the Proteas and Australia, and one of the most titillating matches the cricket world has ever seen.
The Aussies set a world record in the first innings when they scored more than 400 runs. The South Africans promptly smashed that record in the second innings. With that, both nations broke one world record in a single day, and the Proteas claimed success over their long-time rivals.

9. South Africa has never made it to a Cricket World Cup final.

Cricket followers will know this and it’s a slightly sore subject around SA cricket fans.

This is especially because the Proteas have fallen just short of moving to World Cup finals on several occasions, after several disappointing quarters- and semi-final matches. And because let’s face it, the team have just had some plain bad luck over the years. Lest we forget that New Zealand match collapse in 2011, and those losses thanks to rain rules in the 2003 and 1992 World Cups.

All the same, never say never.

10. One South African has won a Cricket World Cup – but as part of another team.

Gary Kirsten is a former left-hand opener for the SA national team with great success as batsman and coach. After retiring as a player, Kirsten became the coach for the India national cricket team and led them to victory in the 2011 Cricket World Cup. This makes him the only South African to have ever been part of a Cricket World Cup-winning team.

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