Odendaal will relinquish his position as CEO at the end of January.
Newlands has become something of a fortress of South African domination since 2005. South Africa have won 10 of their 15 tests there during Odendaal’s time in charge, with only two losses to Australia. The Proteas have also reigned victorious in nine out of 11 One Day Internationals at the home of Western Cape cricket.
Remarkably, South Africa recorded only 11 victories in 36 tests at Newlands in the long stretch before 2005, while losing 18, or fully half of these.
“These are good trivial pursuit statistics, and they are a monument to Graeme Smith record as a captain, but to have been operationally in charge of Newlands during nearly one-third of the test matches ever played here has been a huge privilege, and I will be leaving with many wonderful memories,” chirped Odendaal.
He is savouring every moment of his last game. “I love the way in which the table gets laid for the first ball on the first morning”, he said.
“Hundreds of people are involved in getting numberless small details sorted, with grounds curator Evan Flynt and his team at the centre of it all.
“He is a real professional and the pitch and outfield have never looked better than now,” Odendaal added.
He has witnessed some stirring moments at Newlands in the past decade. “My first test in charge against England in January 2005 was a CEO’s dream, with the home team winning at six o’ clock on the fifth afternoon in front of a full house, which included 6 000 thirsty Barmy Army supporters. A record 80 000 people bought tickets for that one”.
Two of his favourite Cape Cobras stars, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander, have been amongst the statistically most successful bowlers at Newlands during his time, with Steyn taking 58 wickets in 12 tests, while Philander is third on the list with 31 wickets in only five tests at this venue.
“Those stats include Vernon’s memorable debut spell at Newlands in November 2011 when he and Morne Morkel had Australia reeling at 21/9 and, eventually, 47 all out”, Odendaal recalls.
The highest score at the ground is the 262 by Stephen Fleming of New Zealand – “I remember the game was in the rugby season, in May for the first time ever , and we over prepared the pitch because we were afraid the winter conditions would favour the bowlers too much”.
Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla - all Cobras - have also played major roles in entrenching South Africa’s dominance at one of the most picturesque grounds in the world during the past decade.
The legendary Kallis compiled 1440 runs in all tests at Newlands at an average of 72. Smith, who retired from international cricket in March 2014, is second on the list of leading run-scorers, having smashed 1075 runs in tests.
Smith won 53 of his 108 tests as captain, of which 10 came at Newlands.
Amla, the current captain of the SA team, has struck 906 runs and averages 41.18 at the ground.
Smith (386 runs), Herschelle Gibbs, Western Province’s home-grown prodigy (384 runs), and AB de Villiers (380) occupy the top-spots in terms of ODI-runs scored at Newlands the past ten years, while Makhaya Ntini (14) has taken the most ODI-wickets at the venue the past decade.
“What great cricketers! It has been a truly memorable journey. This is a special place under the mountain”, Odendaal concluded.
His successor as CEO of the Western Province Cricket Association and Cape Cobras is due to be announced on 12th January.