• Newlands is England’s ODI bogey ground

    In five ODIs against the Proteas at Newlands, England have never tasted victory.

    What is it about the picturesque ground that makes it so hard for England to perform at their best?

    England haven’t played much cricket at Newlands since their ODI rebirth, so it might be a little unfair to judge the present crop of players based on the sins of their predecessors.

    The Three Lions last played an ODI at Newlands in 2016, with six members of the playing XI featuring in the current squad. In that match, the Proteas brought spin into the attack early – something they may want to consider if England bat first in the series opener.

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    ODIs between the two countries at Newlands have seldom been high-scoring affairs, but they have been some memorable contests. Few were as unforgettable as the 2000 triangular series match.

    Hansie Cronje won the toss and elected to bat first, but England opening bowlers Darren Gough and Andy Caddick gave Gary Kirsten and Herschelle Gibbs little to work with on a slow Newlands pitch.

    Batting was tough work and a sluggish outfield didn’t help the situation. The Proteas plodded along, but lost wickets consistently. It was only when Lance Klusener forced the pace after Jacques Kallis just about held the top order together.

    Kallis was run out after colliding with umpire Wilf Diedericks, who was a considerable obstacle. Mark Ealham had little sympathy for the Proteas run machine and celebrated the wicket.

    Klusener powered South Africa beyond the magical 200 mark, and the Proteas fancied their chances of defending the total in the dusk hours.

    England were pegged back early by a peach of a delivery from Nantie Hayward that Nasser Hussain did well to nick through to Mark Boucher.

    For the rest of the chase, England remained seemingly behind the game, losing wickets regularly, but the Proteas just couldn’t finish them off, even after ending Chris Adams’ stubborn knock of 42. England were 152 for 7 when Adams departed, but the tail were determined to go down swinging.

    When Shaun Pollock got pasted around Newlands in the penultimate over of the chase, England believed they might pull off an unlikely win. Even after Ealham holed out to Jonty Rhodes to give Pollock a measure of revenge, Newlands was a nervous place as Kallis prepared to bowl the final over.

    Chris Read surrendered the strike off the first ball of that Kallis over, which in hindsight might have cost England the match. Kallis knocked over Caddick first ball and then held his nerve against Gough to win the game off the final ball by just one run.

    Newlands was particularly hostile to batting back in 2000. Some 20 years on we would expect more runs, but a low-scoring dogfight cannot be ruled out.

    Photo: Gallo Images

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