Saunter through St George’s

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Established: 1889
Capacity: 19,000
Floodlights: Yes
Ends: Duckpond End, Park Drive End
Home Team: Warriors and Eastern Province
Test History: 26 Tests (10 Home wins, 5 Draws, 11 home losses)
Last 10 Tests: 4 home wins, 3 away wins, 3 draws
Last 10 Tosses: 4 batted first (2 wins, 2 defeats); 6 fielded first (1 win, 2 defeats, 3 draws)

Overview

Port Elizabeth’s St George’s Park staged the first Test to be played outside England or Australia in 1888-89 (England winning by eight wickets) and in 1969-70 hosted the final Test before South Africa’s 21-year isolation.

It also staged South Africa’s first rugby international, also against England, in 1891. In 1896 it witnessed one of Test cricket’s most remarkable games. England’s George Lohmann took 7 for 38 in South Africa’s first innings and then 8 for 7 in their second as they were bowled out for 30.

Situated within sight of the ocean, the ground became famous for the enthusiastic band that plays during Tests. But ahead of the 2003 World Cup they were banned from playing inside the ground, amid safety concerns, and have only made sporadic appearances since.

The ground has brought mixed fortunes for the South African side. In 1992 they secured a superb win by 9 wickets, Allan Donald claimed 12 for 139, on a pitch that many had said favoured spin bowling and was a fast bowler’s nightmare. But in 1997 they lost to Australia by two wickets, after leading by 101 runs on the first innings, as Mark Waugh played one his most valuable Test innings.

Located near the city centre, St George’s Park is easily accessible by public transport, car or on foot, and, as with other South African grounds is still a blend of open space and covered seating.

Last Time Out

Only two innings were possible in a rain hit Test in 2014 but four centuries were struck as Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis got the ball rolling before Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels tonned up.

The draw was inevitable after heavy showers.

They Said

Groundsman Adrian Carter told the Herald he believes Russell Domingo will enjoy the hometown advantage: “The ground is looking good, all our preparations have been done, and coach Russell Domingo comes from here.

“He coached here for a long time and knows what to expect from the pitch.”

Happy Hunting Ground

Hashim Amla narrowly leads Elgar and Du Plessis in terms of runs scored at St George’s while the left-handed opener tops the averages, all three have scored two centuries at the ground.

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel lead the wickets column in PE but neither are likely to feature against Sri Lanka, Vernon Philander bowled in 2014 but could only pick up one wicket.

Conclusion

St George’s is traditionally slower than the other Test grounds in South Africa but the groundsman would have worked hard to ensure that the pitch doesn’t turn too much.

It would be surprising if the team that wins the toss doesn’t bat first with the bowlers set to come into the game more as the test wears on.

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