When it comes to cricket, SA is one of the world's leading nations. According to many, cricket is the second most popular sport in the country, behind soccer. Multiple nations living in South Africa keep the sport livelier than ever, including the English-speaking population, Afrikaans-speaking whites, and the Asian/Indian community. Cricket was introduced into the South African territories by the British after South Africa was turned into a permanent British settlement.
The bat-and-ball game became known in all the regions touched by the British colonisation, but in only in selected places did it remain until this day as a popularised sport and a loved source of both entertainment and success. Much like most sports in SA, cricket was influenced by the apartheid system, and suffered for it. Today, South Africa plays a huge role in the global cricket scene, being a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and having Test, One Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) status.
History of Cricket in SA and Famous Cricket Players
- The first recorded cricket match on SA soil took place in 1808 in Cape Town. The oldest cricket club was the Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, founded in 1843. The first Test match was played between South Africa and England at Port Elizabeth during the 1888-1889 tour of England. South Africa thus became the third nation to receive the high-class Test status.
- The governing body for professional and amateur cricket in South Africa is an institution called Cricket South Africa (previously known as the United Cricket Board of South Africa).
- South African cricket team experienced an international ban for 20 years due to the apartheid, which was imposed by the ICC (the ban lasted from 1970 until 1991). According to some, it was in the point when the ban was put into effect that South Africa had just outplayed big teams such as Australia and had arguably fielded the best team in the world.
- At its peak in 1960-70, SA counted on world-class players such as Graeme Pollock, Eddie Barlow and Mike Procter. Since South Africa has been reinstated as a Test nation, it has achieved some success, but the overall performance of the team is yet to reach international fame. Some of the all-time great South African cricketers have been Mark Boucher (holds a world record of 555 Test dismissals), Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis.
- South African national cricket team competes in the following international tournaments: CC Cricket World Cup, ICC World Twenty20, Test Cricket and One Day International. Club competitions include SuperSport Series, Momentum One Day Cup and Ram Slam T20 Challenge.
Fun Cricket Facts
- South Africa was the host of the 2003 Cricket World Cup. The team failed to progress beyond the group stage, which was a major upset, due to a misunderstanding of how many runs they needed to score in a rain-affected run chase. They missed by 1 run after misreading the Duckworth-Lewis method rules.
- The SA team containing such great cricketers as Allan Donald, Gary Kirsten, Shaun Pollock and Hansie Cronje is believed to be grossly underachieved and that gave them a reputation of ‘chokers’. They all reached the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup four times but failed to reach the finals.
The national SA cricket team is nicknamed The Proteas. Protea is a South African flowering plant which is often called the sugarbush and is seen as a symbol of hope and change.