SA team set to play first township game

Published: Thursday, May 31, 2001, 2:21 [IST]
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Johannesburg: South Africa's national cricket team will play its first ever cricket game in a black township in the run-up to the 2003 World Cup, Cricket World Cup (CWC) boss Ali Bacher said on Wednesday. Bacher said the "Proteas" will play provincial Western Province team in one of several townships surrounding Cape Town, but did not state which one, in the run-up to the World Cup, to be held from 7 February to 19 March 2003. For several years now, it has been a policy in South African cricket for visiting international teams to play matches in townships as part of its tour itineraries. But United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) spokeswoman Bronwyn Wilkinson confirmed on Wednesday it would be the first time a South African team plays a game in a previously disadvantaged area. "Yes, this is the first time, but why it has taken them such a long time is a good question," she said. Bacher invited South Africa's other affiliated provinces to give CWC lists of possible grounds in townships where other warm-up games could also be played. "We suggest that each affiliate hosts one World Cup warm-up game in a disadvantaged area within its boundaries," Bacher said. He said the grounds would be allocated provided the pitches and outfield were of good quality for important games of this nature and that adequate security be provided for the matches. World Cup organisers have come under fire in the local media for not including cricket grounds in former black areas in the list where World Cup games will be played. Bacher defended the decision, saying costs would be too high to upgrade these venues. He emphasised that the competing nations could expect to enjoy first-class competition in the warm-up games from the senior provincial teams. "These are very serious matches and they will be treated as such. We must put our best senior provincial teams into the field to provide the right kind of competition," Bacher said.

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