On Sunday, drought-affected Cape Town’s two-minute bathing shower rule for its residents suddenly seemed redundant. For the shower didn’t stop all day. It cleaned up the city that had been so reluctant to use the mop or hosepipe.
Those who had been standing in water queues at public taps or natural springs this past month were profusely thanking the rain gods.
However, the downpour caused some collateral damage. The highly-entertaining Test that was gradually drifting South Africa’s way got a washed out day. The home team, already ahead by 142 runs, would have wanted to be out there on Day 3. They would have been keen to pile runs quickly, declare the innings to give enough to their bowlers to get those all-important 10 Indians wickets. What seemed like a very workable plan on Day 2, now needed a tweak.
A declaration would be dodgy. Coming up with a “seemingly chaseable but not really chaseable” target was always tricky. A South African victory had looked inevitable at stumps on Day 2. The rainy day has changed that. Now, a draw too is a possible result. It was not easy to decide who — the Indians or the locals — would have been happier to see rain drops trickling down the window panes this morning.
Actually, there were a lot of confused local faces at the Newlands gates this morning. Sunday was expected to be a full house, a day at cricket with South Africa marching towards a memorable win. Cape Town had been caught by surprise. Greg Botha, someone who has been at New Year games at Newlands for close to six decades, was wearing an oddly cryptic smile and a heavy raincoat. “In all my trips to this venue, it has never rained during the New Year game,” he says. Others around nodded too. All through the longish conversation about Rabada’s rise in the ICC ranking table and Cape Town’s sinking water table, it was impossible to comprehend if they wanted the rain to stop or not. A Sunday at the Tests or a five-minute shower, it was a difficult choice.
Greg, like the majority of those who had braved the rain to be at the stadium on time, was undecided about waiting for the clouds to clear or leave. But they waited, resulting in brisk business for the food and drinks court. With icy rain droplets carrying a cold breeze reaching those standing under the stadium atrium, the hot chocolate sales, for once, caught up with the beer trade.
“This was to be a big day for sales. Now, we just have a few hours since the game is sure to be abandoned,” said the lady behind the counter at the burger place. She was to be proved right. Within hours the crowd would clear, the unrelenting rain exhausting the patience of the cricket lovers. Adding to the general gloominess of the eerily silent stadium, inside were glum faces of the shop-owners staring at their well-stocked and unsold goods.
It was in total contrast to the cackle from a group of young girls in black aprons. Hired to wait tables at the hospitality boxes, the manager collectives call them the ‘casuals’. Not all of them are particularly keen on the game, the intriguing Test with twists and turns not interesting them much.
“Rains however mean the Test will now go till the fifth day. We get paid by the day so for us an early end to the Test means we get paid less,” explains one of the girls.
No play, no problem
Those leaving the hospitality boxes too have been sporting big smiles as they leave the stadium. A security officer explains the possible reason for the good mood. “In South Africa we have a policy, if less than 10 overs are bowled in a day due to weather, every ticket holder gets a refund. This is true for the boxes too. So there are days when people wine and dine the whole day while watching rain and at the end of the day get a refund,” he says.
Though the rain meant different things to different people at Newlands, a water break in the middle of this breathtaking Test was welcome.
(Source: The Indian Express)