Port Elizabeth is nicknamed the Friendly City or the Windy City – depending on who you ask. The wicket at St. George’s Park also has two sides as has been evident with the myriad range of scores by both individual batsmen and teams across the years.
While Kagiso Rabada must be itching in his bowling spikes to have a crack at surpassing the 200-wicket mark for South Africa, those who prefer to entertain with the bat would do well to look into historic records at the ground to get an idea of how to approach an innings here.
For those who haven’t played at Port Elizabeth before, the occasion can be a bit overwhelming. The noise of the brass band blaring from the stands can be an assault on the senses, even with the loudest Barmy Army supporters in full voice. For bowlers, the wind can have its way with you on a bad day while the weather and the wicket can be vastly unpredictable.
It shouldn’t be too surprising then that the highest score since 2002 is just 137, notched up by Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis against New Zealand in 2013.
The top score by any batsman at the ground belongs to another South African – Herschelle Gibbs. Back in 2001 against India Gibbs batted for over 440 minutes on his way to 196 runs – an excruciatingly long time by his usual standards. Lance Klusener’s 174, scored in 1999 against England, also took some effort – 333 minutes to be exact.
Top three highest scores* by South African batsmen at St. George’s Park
But even with relatively low high scores in recent years, it is possible to amass an intimidating team total.
Against New Zeland in 2013, South Africa scored 525 for eight before declaring and in 2014 against Australia and the West Indies respectively, they cobbled together 423 and 417 for eight declared.
The Proteas beat the Kiwis by an innings and 193 runs and triumphed over Australia with a 231-run win. The match against the West Indies was drawn.
In the last Test South Africa played here – against Sri Lanka in 2019 – they were beaten by eight wickets.
Antoinette is a recovering journalist, having written for Sports Illustrated, The Guardian, Daily Maverick and others. She has won multiple SAB Journalist of the Year awards, across a variety of categories. She thinks it’s strange writing about herself in the third person, unless she’s playing as herself in The Sims…which she’s been doing for over 20 years.