Will the Boxing Day Test work in Jozi?

01 April 2018 - 14:23 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
GCB CEO Greg Fredericks during the Molalatladi Primary School visit by CSA for
GCB CEO Greg Fredericks during the Molalatladi Primary School visit by CSA for "67 minutes on Nelson Mandela Day" in Rockville on July 18, 2016 in Soweto, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Highveld Lions chief executive officer Greg Fredericks had every reason to smile and have a swagger in his walk.

The pitch‚ which made headlines during the tour between South Africa and India in January behaved and secondly the fans made the most of the Easter Weekend and the cricket was worth their money.

Newly installed Australian captain Tim decided to be a Paine in the neck and pushed the game along with Pat Cummins‚ who's clearly taken a liking to the Wanderers.

On his Test debut as an 18-year-old‚ Cummins took seven wickets and a career best 6/79 as Australia went on to win an unforgettable Test by two wickets.

That match was going to be the last time he'd be seen in whites for nearly six years.

On his return to the Bullring‚ he collected his second “Michelle” and scored his first and long overdue test 50.

Enough about Australia's indefatigable cannonball and back to Mr Fredericks and his broad grin.

You see‚ the Wanderers doesn't always get the timing of Test matches right and that's not always their fault.

With Johannesburg being the centre of South Africa's and the continent's economy‚ timing is absolutely everything.

Unlike Cape Town and it's picturesque ground in the Southern Suburbs‚ things move at breakneck speed and people actually have to work.

Cape Town folk also work but the city with the mountain is also known for moving at rickshaw pace as compared to the camera flashing speed the City of Gold is known for.

“It's Sunday today and people are at church‚ but the timing of this Test has been wonderful. Look at how good the crowds were on days one and two‚” chuckled Fredericks as he walked through the revamped and snazzy Charles Fortune Media Centre.

It was a pertinent point to make considering how poor the crowds were in Durban and Port Elizabeth.

The coastal cities have rich Test match heritages that can't be ignored but it's clear the Highveld venues and the drought-stricken Mother City more than embrace Test cricket.

They give it a sense of occasion and meaning.

It also helped that a series laced with stairwell expletives‚ shoulder charges‚ illegal ball alterations and tears has also been decently interspersed with good cricket.

More importantly‚ it was still live‚ something that's not always the case in South Africa/Australia contests here.

Temba Bavuma's return to form and Morne Morkel's final Test added unexpected and welcome plot twists to an engrossing contest where the hosts picked themselves up from the Durban canvas to ensure they won't lose a home series to Australia for only the third time in 24 years.

Australia‚ India and England can only come to South Africa every four years on their cycles but this summer has made it clear as who are the test match bosses from a crowd perspective. The Wanderers holiday crowd on a rare end of March Easter Weekend will almost certainly push a serious case for the Boxing Day test to come to Gauteng.

It's become clear that the current economic climate which also saw a one percent Value Added Tax hike come into effect today will ask serious questions on South African's from a holidaying perspective.

There's no Christmas football in South Africa‚ so why not bring the Boxing Day Test to the Wanderers where it's clear fans will come out in their numbers when there's no competing church services.

The Boxing Day Test isn't the traditional nation stopper that it is in Melbourne but the MCG is Australia's biggest sporting arena and the fans ensure it will forever be Australia's sporting centre piece.

It's a pity the other Test nation's aren't money spinners as compared to the “Big Three” but if the thinking is on the correct railway line for the powers that be‚ the seeds of a Johannesburg or Centurion Boxing Day must have been sown by this once in a lifetime Easter Weekend Test.

Maybe‚ just maybe‚ when the next marquee series comes along‚ the raucous arena gets the Christmas holiday Test.

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