TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
EDEN Park in Auckland is the only rugby stadium in regular use as an international cricket venue, which helps explain why South Africans with bats and balls know the place better than their compatriots with odd shaped balls.
The Springboks first played a test there in 1921, or almost 32 years before South Africa’s first cricket test at the ground.
But, more than 95 years after Boy Morkel’s Boks won 9-5 in front of a crowd of 40 000, the cricketers lead the score.
The Springboks have taken on the All Blacks 11 times at Eden Park, where South Africa’s cricketers have played New Zealand in 13 games of all shapes and sizes.
While the Boks have only two wins to show for their efforts, their cricket counterparts have won five and lost five with the other three drawn.
Historic indeed, but it’s all new to Chris Morris – who is on his first trip to New Zealand with the South African squad picked to play a T20 and five one-day internationals.
“It was a bit of a shock to my system (on Tuesday) when I got here to see the straight boundaries,” Morris told reporters in Auckland on Wednesday.
“But every stadium has its own dynamics that you’ve got to get used to.
“It does change (things) a little but you’ve got to adapt to any field you play on.”
Eden Park’s pitch is laid along what is the halfway line when the All Blacks or the Blues run out.
So the square boundaries are reasonable and the straight boundaries are ridiculous.
“I have never seen a boundary that small and that straight before,” Morris said.
“It’s going to be a different challenge.
“Each field has got its challenges and you are going to have to hit your straps against an international team.
“It’s going to be fun.”
Morris is in the kind of form that should allow him to have fun in the T20 at Eden Park on Friday.
Only Wayne Parnell and Imran Tahir took more wickets than he did in South Africa’s 5-0 walloping of Sri Lanka in the ODI series that ended on Friday, and no-one had a better series economy rate than Morris’ 3.73.
But the biggest factor in Morris’ favour going into Friday’s game is that he was not part of the team who had their confidence rattled by the suits’ interference in the XI chosen to play the 2015 World Cup semi-final.
New Zealand beat South Africa by four wickets with a ball to spare in that Eden Park epic.
“Fortunately I was not part of those memories – I watched it in South Africa – but I was very emotionally attached to it,” Morris said.
“It was a very, very emotional day for our fans in South Africa.
“I am sure there will be a bit of emotion involved for the guys that were here during the World Cup but it adds to the fire of the game.”
And offers the chance to add a salving layer of history to what will for years remain a painful wound.