No plans to move from Cape Town
There are no plans to move ICC World Twenty20 cricket away from Newlands, tournament director Steve Elworthy assured on Friday.
Cape Town has been engulfed in deluges of rain all winter and a high water table means Newlands could become a pretty sodden place if there are further heavy showers between now and the opening of the tournament on September 11.
Newlands came in for plenty of criticism late last summer for its treacherous pitch and the shabby condition of the famous ground in general, but Cricket South Africa and the Western Province Cricket Association have made a concerted effort to ensure the ground has everything it needs to ensure it is fully equipped to host their nine matches in the inaugural 20-over world championship.
"We're very pleased with the way the pitch responded to its winter treatment and everything is looking extremely good in terms of the pitch, the outfield and the ground in general," Elworthy said in Johannesburg on Friday. "We've had a very positive report from the pitch consultants, Peter Muzzell, who was appointed by Cricket South Africa, and Andy Atkinson, who the ICC appointed."
The Newlands square has been covered in a marquee for several weeks and groundsman Bennet Hewe is confident he will be able to prepare good pitches for the tournament, providing the weather stays reasonably dry.
Elworthy said members of the public would still be able to purchase "a few" tickets next week, although the bigger games, such as South Africa's opener against the West Indies and the September 24 final, are sold out.
Standard Bank announced at the same press conference that they will be getting some mileage out of the tournament as well, having signed with the ICC as regional partners, which seems only fair as their sponsorship of domestic 20/20 cricket did much to ensure the game took off in South Africa.
The hard hats are one of the innovative products that will now be brought into the World Twenty20 and the fact that they will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis should egg on the crowds to get to the stadiums early.
Elworthy said the tournament organisers were heading into "crunch time" in an very positive frame of mind.
"Ticket sales have gone extremely well and the support and impetus that the tournament enjoys has been incredible. We had our final LOC [local organising committee] meeting yesterday (on Thursday), with 60-odd people around the table. All the different pillars of the tournament have been pulled together and everything is going superbly well," Elworthy said.
"We would just like to encourage the eight or nine thousand people who have receipts but not actual tickets, to go and collect their tickets as soon as possible."
Two weeks of hard-hitting, blazing entertainment is certainly on the cards in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.