Cricket history comes alive at Newlands museum

Professor Andre Odendaal shows off some of the books which will be on sale at the Newlands Experience.

MARK WARD

The Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) has moved to position the Newlands Experience as one of the top cricket museums in the world.

The first phase of a new exhibition on the iconic stadium and the history of the sport in South Africa but in particular the Western Cape recently opened during the New Year’s Test match between South Africa and India.

The museum will only officially open its doors as part of Cape Town’s tourist attractions, which will include being on the famous Red Bus route, later in February.

The exhibition was compiled as a voluntary contribution to the WPCA by historian and author Professor Andre Odendaal, who was the association’s former CEO.

When fully operational, the experience will rival established museums such as the Blades of Glory Cricket Museum in Pune, India, the Melbourne Cricket Museum, Australia, and the iconic Lord’s Cricket Museum in London.

Johannes Adams, president of the WPCA, said the Newlands cricket ground is synonymous with cricket and legacy.

“Newlands hosted its first test match in the same decade as the first Tests at the Oval and Lords in London and is recognised worldwide as one of the great cricket stadiums. We wish to make the new Newlands Experience space part of the soul of a transformed and re-developed 21st century Western Province and Newlands.

“We have partnered with Cricket South Africa, the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town to make this initiative viable by introducing various activities and experiences for local and foreign visitors,” said Adams.

He thanked partners in the project, Ebrahim Ganief from the Scan Shop who digitised images on a cost-free basis and Greg Robb of Atomi and Donovan Pugh of Elephant Design for the design and production.

The museum is situated on the ground -floor of the new development on the Cape Town side of the stadium, which also includes tenants such as Varsity College.

The present exhibition includes an illustrated timeline of the iconic stadium, covering more than 150 years. Ten portable panels illustrate the developments since unification such as the growth of women’s cricket and the recent ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, which was hosted at Newlands.

Odendaal said he is excited about the initiative as the exhibition was not going to be a “flat” display.

“It will be a live experience with filmed interviews of current and former players, being streamed on screens with the press of a button with several digital boards honouring former players planned for phase two. This exhibition was compiled as a voluntary contribution to the Western Province Cricket Association,” said Odendaal.

An announcement will be made later the week if the exhibition will be opened for the duration of the SA20. The first match at Newlands is between MI Cape Town and the Sunrisers Eastern Cape on Tuesday January 16.

Johannes Adams, president of the Western Province Cricket Association), Rihan Richards, president of Cricket South Africa, Professor Andre Odendaal, and Beresford Williams, former president of Western Province Cricket Association.
Anroux Marais, MEC for Cultural Affairs and Sport in the Western Cape, points towards some of the historical moments in the history of the sport at the opening of the exhibition.
Some of the displays which can be seen at the Newlands Experience.