Pitch report: St George's Park, PE
A look at the St George's Park deck, five years after the last Test was played there.
<b>Established:</b> 1882<br><b>Capacity:</b> 19000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Duckpond End, Park Drive End<br><b>Home Teams:</b> Warriors, Eastern Province Jumbos<br><b>Head Groundsman:</b> Adrian Carter<br><b>Test History:</b> 23 Tests; 8 home wins, 11 away wins, 4 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tests:</b> 3 home wins, 4 away wins, 3 draws<br><b>Last 10 Tosses:</b> 8 bowled first (3 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws); 2 bat first (one loss, one draw)
St George's Park is located right in the heart of the Eastern Cape's 'Friendly City', which also goes by the name of 'The Windy City' because of the blustery conditions.
Situated a stone's throw from the Eastern Cape's beautiful beaches, the ground symbolically occupies the central park. The ground is also famous for its brass band, which dates back as far as 1867.
Lesser known interesting facts about St George's Park include:<br>- It was the venue for the first Test to be played outside of England or Australia.<br>- The ground hosted the first women's international Test. <br>- It staged the last Test before South Africa's expulsion from world cricket. <br>- South Africa won their first ever Test series win against Australia here. <br>- The first Rebel Test was hosted here.
St George's has also been home to some world-class cricketers, including the Pollock brothers – Peter and Graeme, with the latter fondly known as the "Prince of St George's Park".
One of the great modern bowling performances took place at the ground in 1992, when Alan Donald claimed 12/139 against India on what described as a 'dead pitch' and 'a fast bowler's graveyard'.
<b>Last time out</b>
This venue is not a happy place for the Proteas, and the last time a game was played here, in December 2007, it saw the hosts lose to the West Indies by 128 runs in four days.
The Windies batted first and put up 408 all out, with Shiv Chanderpaul and Marlon Samuels doing the bulk of the scoring, the former making a century and the latter adding 94 runs. Chris Gale made 66 in that innings and it looked like a solid batting track.
South Africa's reply was dismal though, as they were all out for 195. Dwayne Bravo took four wickets, while Daren Powell and Jerome Taylor bagged three apiece. Only AB de Villiers was able to make a score of substance, hitting 59 as the rest of the order failed to pass 30.
The visitors weren't much better themselves in their second knock, apparently grateful for the substantial lead they still had. They ended up being 175 all out, with spinner Paul Harris taking four wickets and Dale Steyn three, showing the deck's ability to take turn as well as pace.
With a target of 389 to win and a decent amount of time in which to do it, the Proteas would have been confident of getting close, but not even Jacques Kallis 85 and De Villiers' second half century of the match could prevent them from crumbling for 260.
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b>
South Africa's premier player, <b>Jacques Kallis</b>, is the top scorer at this ground and has played nine Tests here, but even he has had a tough time, averaging just 38. He has six fifties in PE, but no centuries.
<b>AB de Villiers</b> is the only other current player to have done anything remotely interesting here, his two half tons in the West Indies game his only contributions in three Tests.
The last time the Black Caps visited here was in 2000, and <b>Chris Martin</b> is the only remaining member of that side. He took five wickets in that game.
Kallis, again, tops the list of current players to feature here with 12 wickets to his name, while Dale Steyn has eight. The top wicket-taker at this ground is South Africa's bowling coach Allan Donald, who has 40.
According to the forecasts, there is set to be rain on four of the five days, with only Sunday, day three, looking clear all the way. The rain isn't forecast to be heavy though, so hopefully the famous wind will blow the clouds away and allow a decent amount of cricket to be played.
South Africa are on top form at the moment, and should be able to add a win to the column at a ground they have traditionally not enjoyed. Though the weather could play a part, they have the pace attack of Steyn, Philander and Morkel to call upon, while the Kiwis will still be reeling from their humiliation in Cape Town.
If the weather plays along and allows enough game time, the Proteas look set to take the series two-nil, even though games here are not usually high-scoring.
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