Cricket season is here and with that the Proteas step back into the limelight. Proud sponsor of the Proteas, Castle Lager, welcomed the start of the Proteas season with one of their exclusive Locker Room Sessions, and I was there to take it all in.
Quite simply the event is all about you getting to enjoy a few cold ones with a few of the players as they introduce you to their locker room and share some behind the scenes stories and insights. Every time I go to these player events I am always so impressed with how approachable and friendly our sportsmen our, combine that with Castle always getting it right when putting together a fan experience, and needless to say you have a cracking evening on your hands.
First up we started at the newly created Castle Corner on the boundary at Centurion. Now I’m not talking about a spot on the grass with a couple umbrellas and a bar, oh no, for the summer the national brew has gone all out and created the ultimate cricket fan area complete with tiered decking, a bar with a view and best of all – a pool!
So for Wednesday’s game you can enjoy the best view in the house while chilling pool side, it’s kinda like h2o meets Newlands, such a great idea. After getting to know everyone at this amazing spot (and wagering how many bikini clad girls could fit into the pool), it was then off to the locker room to go meet A.B de Villiers, Morne Morkel and Faf Du Plessis. We strolled across the field then made our way up the players walkway and there were the guys along with the full team’s kit displayed in the somewhat cozy locker room area.
With SuperSport’s Derek Alberts leading the proceedings, the format of the event was super casual and interactive. The players ran us through the general match day schedule, who sits where and then shared some great stories about players past and present. After describing Neil McKenzie’s superstitions (endless) the guys then broke off into a few other stories about the players.
Paul Harris is known for being incredibly messy in the change room, Wayne Parnell is generally in charge of the music, Bouchie has been known to get the youngsters ‘involved’ in the fines meetings and A.B has been known to have a quiet word with the shower wall when he has given his wicket away…
At any stage you could chip in with a question of your own and conversation was suddenly going from the Springboks, Faf’s mate Kyle Mills, Imran Tahir smashing cake in his face and why the guys have a hot tub in the back…
The guys answered pretty much everything, but there was a bit of a silence when MC Derek Alberts posed the natural question if there had ever been any ladies present after a match…
With the locker room session of the event behind us, we then moved into the Presidential Suite where the formal interview stage took place. Again Derek rolled proceedings on perfectly drawing all kinds of stories out of the guys. Amongst the jokes and humour, A.B spoke about his new role as captain and how things are progressing under the new leadership of Gary Kirsten. It was so great hearing the guys chat about the current setup with so much enthusiasm and positivity. There is a real feeling that something great is in the works right now, and Gary has made it perfectly clear from day one that he is there to make sure the Proteas get to no.1 in all three formats.
Back to the fun stuff though. A.B and Faf were in school together at Affies and had some really great stories to share. They shared a dorm together in high school, and A.B was first team fly half with Faf at inside centre. They had us laughing for ages about school shenanigans, but somehow Morne Morkel just always seemed to trump them with a story. I couldn’t get it all on camera, but here is one story worth some air time.
There were more, but I think I will save them for another time!
Big thanks to Castle Lager for putting this all together, it was so great to hang out with the players in such an environment and just another reason to be proud of the sportsmen that we have in S.A.
First ODI starts tomorrow at Centurion, make sure you get your tickets and show your support as they look to bash the Aussies!