Nelson Mandela Bay is alive with cricket fever after it was revealed that Axxess St George’s Park will regain the Boxing Day Test in 2014. Proteas Captain, Graeme Smith, shared the news at the post-match presentation following the Proteas sensational victory against Australia in Port Elizabeth.
The Boxing Day Test will be the first for Axxess St George’s since 2007 when it hosted West Indies in a match that the visitors won. The West Indies will play three Tests, two T20?s, and five One-Day Internationals against the Proteas on their scheduled tour during December and January. Cricket South Africa have confirmed the first Test is to take place at Centurion from December 17 – 21, Port Elizabeth will host the second Test from December 26 – 30 and Cape Town the third Test from the 2nd January.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism CEO, Ms. Mandlakazi Skefile, says: “Cricket adds great value to Nelson Mandela Bay in terms of entertainment, sports development and not to mention the rich history of the sport and venue of St George’s Park. Preserving current fixtures and securing future games can benefit the city in terms of tourism value of foot traffic and expenditure as well as international media exposure.”
“Cricket linkages to Nelson Mandela Bay are many and these momentous occasions to showcase great cricket events such as the Test series between Australia and the Proteas which are paramount to the legacy and future of the sport in the city need to continue. We are, therefore, very grateful to our stakeholders, media partners and the fans, for the integral part that they have paid in rallying support behind the Proteas,” said Ms. Skefile.
St. George’s has also been home to some world-class cricketers such as the popular Makhaya Ntini, Mark Boucher and the Pollock brothers, Peter and Graeme. Graeme Pollock has been voted South Africa’s cricketer of the 20th century. Port Elizabeth will always have special linkages to the Proteas as the city hosted South Africa’s first ever Test match in 1888-89 at St. George’s Park.
The Castle Lager Proteas formed part of the Nelson Mandela’s Bay’s Centenary Celebrations when they took on Australia in the second Sunfoil Test at Axxess St. George’s Park from the 20th -24th February 2014. The awesome comeback of the Protea team showcased the ability of Nelson Mandela Bay to host world-class matches while 25 800 cricket lovers attended the action over the 4 days.
“Cricket South Africa is grateful for the initiative shown by Nelson Mandela Bay in galvanizing the support of the city to get behind the Number One Test Team in the world,” commented Cricket South Africa CE, Haroon Lorgat.
“The Boxing Day Test is a premier fixture on our cricketing calendar and I hope the fans in Port Elizabeth will come out in their numbers to support the Proteas,” Haroon Lorgat, the Cricket South Africa chief, said. “This is always a fixture that the players look forward to and I’m sure the PE fans will make it a special and jovial occasion when it returns this summer against the West Indies.”
Nelson Mandela Bay continues to celebrate its Centenary milestone of Port Elizabeth being declared a city. The region is looking forward to the upcoming Summer Series of cricket internationals and cannot wait to get behind the Proteas. Despite the size of Axxess St. George’s, the stadium has one of the most electrifying atmospheres due to the renowned St. George’s Park Brass Band. The band, which occupies a section of the Grandstand, is known for entertaining crowds throughout all cricket matches and energizing the Protea players to magical wins.
“The sustainability of cricket matches being hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay, however, depends on the citizens and spectators.” expressed Ms. Skefile. “For example, the annual Boxing Day Test Series, which did not have a home, has now been awarded to Nelson Mandela Bay after much lobbying and loyal support from fans. We need to ensure that the city retains these allocated fixtures by providing warm welcomes and filling the stadium to capacity,” she added.
The fierce rivalry continues when South Africa takes on Australia in the 1st T20 International Cricket match at Axxess St George’s Park on the 9th March 2014. The game starts at 14H30.
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