Dwaine Pretorius. (Getty Images)
- Proteas all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius believes it won’t be too weird to play the Solidarity Cup behind closed doors as various players are used to empty stadium in domestic cricket.
- The 31-year-old, who’ll turn out for the Kites, says the occasion might be ‘bittersweet’ because the match might be a one-off before a long break again.
- The 24 players will compete in a practice game on Thursday to get used to the experimental 3 Team Cricket format.
In what is a bit of an indictment on South Africa’s interest in domestic cricket, Dwaine Pretorius believes it won’t be totally weird for this weekend’s Solidarity Cup at SuperSport in Centurion to be played behind closed doors.
Crowd attendances at franchise matches have been dwindling for many years, with four-day matches in particular taking place in virtually empty grounds.
“I play a lot of domestic cricket where there are not many fans, so for some of the players it will be similar,” said the Proteas all-rounder, who’ll turn out for the Kites in cricket’s first taste of the experimental 3 Team Cricket format.
“We’re used to that. But for the regular internationals it will be something they’re going to have to get used to. They’re generally used to playing in front of big crowds but we’ll all have to adjust and take in what is expected to be the new normal for the near future.”
A lack of cheering and roars though isn’t exactly a priority in these corona-stricken times, with the players and officials merely giddy and grateful for some form of competitive action to return.
“We’re very excited to get back onto the field,” said Pretorius.
“After such a long time off it, everyone is just really excited to be back. In a way it is a little bit bitter-sweet because after this we don’t know when we’ll be back again, but for now we’re just looking forward to this opportunity.”
While the three teams – made up of eight players each – look evenly matched on paper, the sheer unfamiliarity of the format itself means that hungry supporters should, at least for now, take the match for what it is: SA’s best cricketers getting to grips with something interesting.
“What I do know is there’s three teams, I know they’ll each face 12 overs and I know the one with the most runs wins,” said Pretorius.
“There’s obviously six fielders and the last batsman stands. It’s fun being a part of something new and fresh, the learning is half the fun of it all. I’m sure in the training match on Thursday we’ll see practically exactly how everything works.”
– Compiled by Heinz Schenk