Cape Town will be memorable for both right and wrong reasons
The past week in Cape Town has been one that will be forever remembered as the Test Match over in 2 and a half days, 23 wickets falling in one day and unfortunately… Australia all out for 47 and on the wrong end of the result.
We flew in to Cape Town and arrived at the Southern Sun Waterfront hotel, some of us not for the first time, but the scenery is amazing no matter how many times you have seen it.
For the first timers the initial glimpses of Table Mountain literally towering over the CBD were taken in - young Patty Cummins likening it to a “Rich man’s Hobart”.
Camps Bay - a beautiful restaurant strip at the beachfront and foot of the mountains was a favourite for dinner this week.
This was only the beginning, as the photo above shows, the view from the ground at Newlands is even more incredible.
Think of the best ground you have watched or played cricket at… Then throw some of the most breathtaking mountain formations in the background and you have Newlands. Wow.
Aside from the views and serenity of the place that is Cape Town, the business side of things fast approached. Nets and gym facilities were great and all 15 players were training seriously hard to get better every session, and to ultimately make that final XI for the first Test Match against the Proteas.
Unfortunately for me that wasn’t to be the case and I was named 12th man. One of those things in cricket which is disappointing initially but when you realise there is strength in depth and competition for places, it means this current Australian team will be leaving no stone unturned and the four of us (Beer, Cummins, Khawaja and myself missing out) are doing everything possible to work harder and push for selection in next match.
More immediately though, our job is to help every player in the team with anything they need. I think this is something that is not necessarily understood by the general public so I thought I would give an insight in to a day in the life of the “twelfthy” and what our job is.
Match Day – The first thing on the agenda is the warm up, prepare as if we are playing in the match because until that team sheet is handed over and the first ball is bowled… Anything can happen! As there are four of us not playing there are plenty of hands on deck – along with the support staff to get things done.
We go through our warm up as normal with Karps our S & C trainer. Catching balls for the bowlers warming up out in the middle. Then to the nets to throw balls to the top 6 or 7 batters so they feel prepared.
This is taking us until about toss time and 25 – 30 mins prior to start of play. In this test we lost the toss and were sent in to bat by Graeme Smith. We now pack up all the kits with S & C equipment, cricket balls, catching mits etc and take them back up to the change rooms.
Now for the real preparation stuff.
Going around the change rooms to all batters and getting a drink for them and anything else they may need – some common things like blistex for lips, spare gloves for hopefully a long stint in the middle or chewing gum etc.
The four of us and Karps then prepare several Esky’s full of Hydralyte and water (We go through approx 60 full bottles of 600ml Water each day) to have with us down on the boundary for whenever a drink is called or wicket is lost.
It is my job as the official 12th man to have my whites and joggers on at all times, but we share the duties and that is why you would see all four of us in our whites sitting on the fence.
Play begins and our job basically is to be reactive to any signalling from the batters, when a wicket falls or DRS review is taken you will always see us sprinting out to the not out batsman with a towel, drink, lollies and banana if required.
Lunchtime comes around and this is the part you may not know. Whilst the players are at lunch, and the Richie Benaud’s of this world are analysing the game we have our bowling, batting, fitness and strength sessions to do. Obviously not all on day one, but filtered across the 5 days all of these would be done in order to simulate us actually playing in the match workload wise.
So day one for me was a running session with Patty Cummins – Vvo2 was the type of session (which is code for HARD WORK x 2!).
Bowling sessions would comprise of between 6 to 10 overs at full intensity, and batting is for around 30mins or more.
Finishing running with 5 mins before resumption of play and its up for a shower and the whites back on to sit on the fence and so on and so forth.
The only difference when fielding is we have to be extremely switched on at all times, have spikes on ready to field in case a bowler needs to come off quickly – which as it turns out with Shaun Marsh injuring himself whilst batting I was required to field the whole match.
Outside of cricket we had a Barry Richards charity golf day on one of the first days here, which was supported by Cricket South Africa and also Cricket Australia with players and staff from both teams competing in the event and some TV camera crews to put the pressure on our Golf Swings! Long story short was, you guessed it… Ricky Ponting shooting 3 UNDER par with seven birdies.
Demoralising for the rest of us mere mortals who thought we had had a good day! A great day had by all in beautiful sunshine and some serious golf played.
The table tennis and FIFA 12 competition has been hotting up, and as you can see in the above photo our official ACTTTA (Australian Cricket Team Table Tennis Association) and FIFA official rankings have been released this week by Alex Kontouris – the only ‘certified ranking analyser’ so he tells us.
Usman is proving to be very difficult to knock off his perch at number one. He’s got me mentally that’s for sure. If anyone has got any tips for me please don’t hesitate to let me know!? Hughes, Beer and Langer have entered the frame in the last day or two so watch out for them by the end of the tour.
I have been lucky enough through the absence of FIFA regulars Paine and Ferguson from our Aus A trip to hold the mantle there, Siddle and Johnson have beaten me and or hot on the heels!
Some of the standout performances this week were up there with the best I have seen. Pup’s 151 in the first innings after being sent in and no one really making it look anywhere near as easy as he did for the first two days was absolute class.
Watto with 5/15 in the first innings after having SA 1/42 at lunch it only took him about 20 balls to take his 5 wickets, beautiful seam presentation and swing bowling. Also Ryan Harris with 4 wickets, no doubt the leader of our attack at the moment!
Unfortunately that is about all the good news from this test, as has been well documented, being bowled out for 47 in the second innings and losing after a lead of 188 runs on first innings.
Back to the drawing board for us, but I can guarantee you we have been working hard in the days since, and will be up for the Second Test Match come the Wanderers, Johannesburg on Thursday!
Off to Joburg tomorrow and to a HIV/AIDS charity dinner which will be televised live across South Africa. The whole team making a conscious effort to support such a great cause and no doubt a very moving evening.
Enough from me, hopefully next time we meet will be after a resounding performance next week.
Ps. Should any of you wish to follow more of the banter on tour, some of the boys are on twitter…
Follow @CricketAus @MClarke23 @Peter_Siddle @Uz_Khawaja @Davidwarner31 @Beery19 @r_harris413 and me @Copes9
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia