India and South Africa have been part of some memorable battles, overs the years © Getty Images
India and South Africa have been part of some memorable battles, overs the years © Getty Images

Johannesburg: Jul 27, 2014


The role of cricket in bringing together India and South Africa has been highlighted at an exhibition titled ‘Cricket Connects’ that kicked off at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

The exhibition is part of a seven-week Festival of India in South Africa, that will see various facets of Indian art, culture and cuisine being taken to various parts of South Africa.

The Festival pays tribute to 20 years of India -South Africa relations, 20 years of South African Freedom and Democracy and 100 years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India from South Africa.

It was inaugurated by Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta, V Srinivas, Joint Secretary Ministry of Culture Government of India, Andy O’ Connor, Board Director & Chairman of Cricket Committee of Cricket South Africa, and other dignitaries.

The exhibition draws on a range of sources and images documentary, visual and audio  to highlight the unique value of sport in illuminating the longstanding relationship between India and South Africa.

The exhibition is based on three core themes — the long history of cricketing relations between India and South Africa, dating back to the late nineteenth century.

India’s vital role in South Africa’s reintegration within the international sporting world in the early 1990s, following the end of Apartheid; and showcasing some of the most thrilling highlights in Indo-South Africa cricket history and the lives of cricket legends from both the countries.

In 1948, when the National Party came to power in South Africa and introduced its racist separate development policies, India was the first country to sever ties with South Africa and led the UN fight for sanctions against apartheid state.

More than four decades later in 1991, at a meeting of the International Cricket Council (ICC) at Lord’s, it was India who proposed South Africa’s re-entry into international cricket.

This was seen as entirely appropriate since India had been at the forefront of the fight against apartheid, and an endorsement would ease acceptance?for the new South Africa around the world.

Within four months of re-joining the ICC, a South African team under Clive Rice toured India, with Eden Gardens in Calcutta, which hosted the first match, exceeding its capacity.

A year later, India undertook the first official tour by a non-White team to that country.

Dubbed the ‘Friendship Tour’, the late President Nelson Mandela witnessed the Johannesburg Test, and endeared himself to the players with his easy informality and knowledge of the game’s players.

Since then, India and South Africa have witnessed some outstanding cricketing ties and performances which have strengthened the socio-cultural and political ties between the two countries.

South Africa also successfully hosted Indian Premier League (IPL) at short notice amid security concerns around election at the time India.

“This exhibition showcases the fascinating relationship by recalling its history, underscoring its political significance and celebrating the thrilling sporting accomplishments on the field of play,” Gupta said.

The exhibition is supplemented with computer multimedia, which covers every single match played between the two countries.

There is also an interactive model which highlights the science behind the swing/reverse swing. Visitors also get the opportunity to partake in a self-help cricket quiz to test their cricketing knowledge.

The exhibition has been designed and developed by the National Council of Science Museums, Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

It runs at Wanderers Stadium until 15 August before moving to Kingsmead Stadium in Durban from 28 August to 15 September 2014.