South Africa Tour 2009/10

Romance at the White Boy Shebeen?

Hi all

On leaving Prince Albert ,Tremers and myself traversed the Swartberg Pass in the hire car.

This miracle of modern construction consists of 20km of gravel mountain pass over sheer and very high rock faces and was built in 1879 by a British engineer who had a budget for construction of 20,000 pounds.

The project's actual cost on completion was 14,500 pounds as the engineer in charge used convict labour.

Gordon Brown and cronies - please note. Maybe this is how to resolve the Banking Crisis once and for all.

At the top of the pass was a mountain hut selling drinks and simple meals operated by a fervent local nature ranger called Johann who had taken a franchise for 7 years and just started up- talk about a gold mine - all he has to do there is to stick a couple of cars out front and every vehicle using the road would stop.

Tremers dragged me to the hire car before I could invest.

Our flight to Johannesburg was nowhere near as exciting as that enjoyed by Wycombe and we arrived on time into the hell hole to be met by our hotel taxi driver - a large Slav from Montenegro called Milos driving an old but trusty Mercedes-Benz. Arranged by Wycombe on our behalf.

I suspect Milos may have been involved in the Balkan wars, judging by the scarred face, gruff conversation and hard-man demeanour, including a piece in the glove compartment. We didnt challenge the fare from the airport.

When we arrived at our hotel Wycombe was there to greet us, full of the joys of Johannesburg and he guided us for a meal into the restaurant within our fenced-off hotel complex, called the " White Boy Shebeen".

We were served an excellent meal by a cheerful and attractive "local" girl called Sarah, who immediately took a fancy towards Tremers - and the feeling, it seemed, was mutual.

" Ive always ended up with birds called Sarah " he confided, and by the exchange of winks and pleasantries going on clearly this was more than a remote possibility here.

I doubt, however, that the previous "Sarah's" in his life shared this ones fondness for the pineapple hairstyle.

He has invited her for a meal in the lovely Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg, on Saturday night.

" I will enjoy you" she responded in fractured English. "Yes, but we can have a nice meal first" Tremers tactfully pointed out.

The following morning was the first day of the cricket. We were ferried to the ground at 7.50am by Milos in his Mercedes. We had asked to be picked up at 8am , but he insisted upon 7.50am as he had to be in court at 8.30am. Obviously we enthusiastically agreed to this.

No doubt you will have watched our pathetic batting display on tv. I dont really wish to spend much time discussing our batting as it speaks for itself but Pietersen especially has been a real let down on this tour. We have now been joined by Five - O and Gigi , arrived fresh from Madrid, and after the cricket they will be going on to sunny Durban on an extended holiday.......apparently they have been given the name of an excellent backpackers in Durban by PC Tintin before they left the UK.

Day two of the test we were at breakfast and I noticed another hard-looking Slav with a pony tail prowling round the taxi area as if looking for a fare. We were due to be picked up at 8.45am by Milos.

Day two of this match has been quite unusual. After a slow start and a "wicket" that everybody in the ground heard when Smith nicked the ball behind, he was given not out by that pestilential Aussie Third Umpire Daryl Harper. After this the cricket was quite boring until at about 2.30 the heavens opened and the heaviest downpour I have ever seen fell onto the pitch, which quickly resembled a boating lake.

We managed to blag into a box at the top of one of the stands to watch the rain for half an hour and the volume of water was incredible. Then, it hailstoned for about five minutes. The Wanderers golf course next to the ground has been closed for the day and there is also a "60%" chance of similar weather tomorrow , the golf-pro told us.

So dont despair back home, there is hope yet we can save this test and win the series if only by dint of the weather.

My final tour report will follow at the end of the test, including an update on what you are all no doubt really interested in!!

Especially, those who were present at the Banana Backpackers!!

Love to all

Midnight xxx

Click here for other tour diaries