We arrived at Mongena private game lodge near Johannesburg for two days of safari. I must say we had a fabulous time, the game drives were very informative. Apart from the big five of which only the Leopard escaped us we saw an array of birds from the colourful European bee eater to the fish eagle. The sunsets were spectacular, and the culinary offerings were first class. The group could not have been nicer, we all had the most amazing time together and I think in future we will add another day, as it was just so enjoyable!
We then travelled to Bloemfontein for the ODI’s by coach, bizarrely we arrived at the same time as the rest of the group who came from London. The hotel was situated right next to a mall, we had a couple of days before the first ODI, most chose to sunbathe by the pool, some went to the mall, while I went to the gym. What was I thinking? I’m not getting my steps in, so I thought it might kick start me to getting fit! Anyway, enough of that, that evening I had a great meal in the New York restaurant, so undid all my good work in the gym!
On Sunday it was the first ODI, Richard was on tour with me as we had very good numbers. It was my first tour this year that I had to work unlike Pakistan which was easy as we had a guide. I had a bit more to do this time round, even though we had TK our very knowledgeable guide who seemed to know everything about South Africa!
South Africa won the toss and elected to bat, they got off to a reasonable start scoring 61 for the first wicket. 5 of the top batsmen got a start but only Van der Dussen went on to score a century. England picking up wickets when SA were looking to build momentum, posting a below par 298/7
England started extremely well, Roy seemed to have shaken of the shackles of the last 12 months and seemed to be near his old self. I have no idea what has happened to him during the last year, but he was obviously struggling with the bat and dropped for the World Cup in Australia. I would love to see him firing this year as we have the 50 Over World Cup in India! The side is a strong but experimental one without the injured Bairstow, Root who is playing test in NZ and Stokes who I expect to come out of retirement. I think the lure of trying to retain the World Cup in India would be too great for him not to.
As I said earlier England were off to great start, they were cruising and didn’t lose a wicket until we had 146 on the board.. At this point I received a text saying a commentator mentioned that “there has to be something seriously wrong for England to lose from the strong position they were in” That’s exactly what happened, South Africa’s attack started to fire and England lost by 27 runs!
Two days later we went again. This time a day nighter, same result in the toss and this time they put England in. Roy was out early but Buttler, Brook and Ali , plus a cameo 28 from Curran England posted 342. I thought that would be enough to level the series, but every one of the SA batsmen made a score with their star captain Bavuma scoring 109 to beat England and win the series!
Before leaving Bloemfontein, we had another day off during which we visited the war museum and Naval Hill. A great day out with superb views of Bloemfontein and the highest dedicated statue of Mandela in the world, it also boasts the only game park in the world that is in the middle of the city!
We arrived at Kimberley, known for diamond mining. The disused mine has left a 790 foot deep and 1519 foot wide hole which has been transformed in to a museum. It is very much worth a visit if you’re there. Nothing else to do really except play the 3rd and last ODI!
No surprise who won the toss. This time they put England in. A brilliant 118 for Malan and an equally exciting 131 for Buttler. England posted 346/7 then, taking wickets at regular occurrence South Africa fell 59 runs short of England’s total which passed without anyone knowing. When Buttler/Malan were batting both were on 99 and scored their centuries and the 200 partnership in the same over. Apparently, it has never happened before, so thanks to Martin Van Tuyl for that stat!
With England winning, SA will now need to qualify for the World Cup. They needed a 3-0 win and to beat the Dutch to edge above the Windies!
So, the shortest tour turned out to be one of the best tours I have had the pleasure of being on. As it comes to a close, I recall that we had a fabulous group who made it very enjoyable! Some of the clients went on to drive the Garden Route and visit Cape Town for an extended stay.
At the end of the week I am off to New Zealand for the test series via Los Angeles. Then we have the World Cup in India Mid October – November followed by 3 glorious weeks in the West Indies in December for 5 T20’s and 3 ODI’s. Let Ed know early if you are coming on this one. Prior to that that we have the Ashes here in UK which will be very interesting as England are playing with no fear!
All the best and see you in the summer.