India vs South Africa 1st Test: In company of ‘Amla Army’

The Amla Army were stationed behind the square boundary. They always are. They have been there and done it.

Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | Cape Town | Updated: January 7, 2018 8:27 am
amla army It was tough to figure out if it was the beer in their hands or the intoxicating Test match action in front that had sent them into a frenzy.

“Oh brinnng back, oh brinnng back, oh brinnng back my Vernny to me, to me…” Vernon Philander had finished an amazing over to Rohit Sharma and the Amla Army — the laughing, singing, sledging bunch with their floppy hats and fake beards and Beatles on their lips — couldn’t get enough of him. The catchy infectious tune forced the entire stand to sway like a pendulum.

This was classic Test action, no IPL could match. In T20, cheerleaders dance for fours and sixes. In Tests, even a wicketless maiden can send the crowd in raptures.

For cricket games, the seats at the square are cheap, since you don’t get to see the ball move around. However, at Newlands the rules are different. Here the wise go at the right angle since it helps you see the bounce, it also makes you wiser about the length the bowler is bowling.

The Amla Army were stationed behind the square boundary. They always are. They have been there and done it. It was tough to figure out if it was the beer in their hands or the intoxicating Test match action in front that had sent them into a frenzy.

The Vernny chant would die down as Dale Steyn would be marking his run-up. The claps would start as Steyn would run in. Being on the square when Steyn is bowling makes you feel for the batsmen, in this case it was Pujara. A 145 kph bouncer heads straight to the head, he bends down on one knee and takes his head away from the line. The ball would zoom past the tri-colour on the helmet. The Amlas would let out collective ‘ooohhhs’ and follow it up with another ‘aaahaa’. The entire stand would then turn to the giant screen to enjoy the replay. From the ground even Pujara would have his eyes there.

“Put in a short leg,” someone from the stands would shout. Coincidentally, the captain would oblige and Pujara would have company. Steyn would fire one into Pujara’s ribs, his challenge would be to keep the ball away from short-leg. He would do that and the ball would race to square leg and roll over the boundary. And the Amlas would start the chant again, pointing to fine leg where Philander fielded.

“Oh brinnng back, oh brinnng back, oh brinnng back my Vernny to me, to me.”

On some days it’s difficult to drag yourself to the press box and then bang your fingers on the key board.

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