With England one nil up in the series against the number one team in the world there was much excitement in the party as we arrived in Cape Town for the 2nd test.
I was fortunate enough to be looking after a small party staying in the appropriately named Never At Home hostel. Previously a 2 star hotel it has recently been converted into a hostel specialising in backpackers and it really was a hidden gem. Situated in Greenpoint, a 10 minute walk to the V & A it had every form of restaurant within a 200 yard strip including a super ribs and burger bar next door.
The Never At Home had its own bar, the Randy Warthog which was a quirky little bar tucked away at the back purely for residents and the odd karaoke singer!
Although it is almost impossible to have a bad steak in Cape Town we were lucky enough to have a butcher’s shop/restaurant 50 yards away, where you selected your favourite cut of steak and it was then cooked to your liking and served with coleslaw and fries for less than a fiver (helped by the very generous exchange rate!)
The party all headed off in different directions to celebrate New Years Eve and the one thing we had in common was we were all suffering with sore heads the following morning! Cape Town on New Years Eve has to be one of the most iconic places in the world to see in the New Year with its firework display at the waterfront with Table Mountain in the background.
Fully recovered and with great expectations we set off to Newlands for the 2nd test and with a full house, glorious sunshine and arguably one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in world cricket we weren’t disappointed.
With England batting first, day one was evenly matched and then on day two Messrs Stokes and Bairstow produced a firework display better than the one seen on New Years Eve with personal milestones and record stands and boundaries galore.
Day three and four saw South Africa get to within 2 runs of England’s mammoth score with outstanding centuries by Amla & Bavuma which was helped by England’s dreadful catching.
The final day was all set to end in a draw when England did what they do best and had a mini batting collapse although it was looking pretty safe when bad light drew proceedings to a premature close.
After the first three days play we headed back to the Randy Warthog to analyse the days play over the odd pint of castle lager.
On Day four we took up Dave Stewart’s invitation to visit Claremont Cricket Club and our driver, Peter, took our entire group straight to the ground in the beautiful district of Constantia where we socialised with some local players and officials before heading back to base.
After the final days play and a drawn test we all left the ground looking forward to the Howzat farewell dinner at the Kelvin Grove and we weren’t disappointed. With all the “Never At Homers” on one table the farewell dinner really was a highlight with excellent food, free-flowing South African wine and the legendary Geoff Boycott as our after dinner speaker with all his normal amusing anecdotes and strong opinions (the sweepstake on when he would say “stick of rhubarb” was won pretty quickly!)
Eventually rounding up our table, my lasting memory is of the group singing Never at Home! Never the Home! as we were the last to man our bus.
Our last night was spent having a farewell beer in the Randy Warthog bar where it was karaoke night and when we discovered the resident chef, Juan, was not just a master omelette maker but also a star on the mic.
What a great finale to a great tour.