At the Cricket South Africa awards ceremony on Saturday, Flint scooped up the elite award as the country’s finest curator, while the Western Province cricketer and new acquisition of the professional squad of the Cape Cobras, Pieter Malan lifted the cup as the Sunfoil Cup Three-Day Cricketer of the Year.
Malan scored 1069 runs at an average of 118.77 and was almost a pencil-in as three-day semi-professional cricketer of the year.
Shamiel Howley of Western Province received the prize as CSA deaf cricketer of the year.
PPC Newlands has seen steadily improving performances in the 50-over domestic showpiece. The team batting second, now enjoys almost a 50/50 chance of clinching it. Prior to Flint’s arrival in 2008, the team batting first in white-ball cricket, had a distinct advantage.
With Flint at the helm, some dramatic tests between South Africa and England were on the brinks of results, but the visitors held out for draws. In 2009/2010, South Africa was one wicket away from ecstasy but England defied the attack at PPC Newlands.
In 2015/2016, England blasted 629 for six declared and South Africa replied with 627 for seven, thanks to a double ton from Hashim Amla and a maiden hundred from Temba Bavuma.
Alistair Cook and his troops almost stumbled to defeat at 159 for six in the second innings before steadying the ship. More than 85 000 people flocked to one of the most enjoyable and dramatic tests on South African soil in many years, and Flint’s meticulous preparations behind the scenes set up a tantalizing contest after lunch on day five.
Flint said the arrival of a new roller in 2013 possibly made Newlands a tad more batsman-friendly and batsmen could play more freely on the up.
But he says the low totals in the 2011 Test at PPC Newlands had little to do with the pitch. He said Australia scored well in the first innings thanks to Michael Clarke’s 151. Bad shot-making and good bowling was the deadly cocktail which resulted in South Africa scoring 96 in their first innings and Australia crumbling to 47 all out after Vernon Philander nipped out 5-17.
In the second innings, South Africa raced to 236 for two. “I am still scratching my head over it, but I think it is a combination of good bowling and batsmen trying to dominate too much,” he added.
The same situation occurred in 2012/2013 when Dale Steyn, Philander and Morné Morkel, who were at the peak of their powers, just operated brilliantly to dismiss New Zealand for a lowly 45.
“The award is a triumph for the whole ground staff, not only for me. It doesn’t happen that often that a coastal curator gets the award. It might be a tad easier up-country, as situations change a lot, and quicker at coastal grounds,” says Flint.
“The Bidvest Wanderers Stadium’s curator won it many times consecutively. In terms of confidence, I guess it is good to have it on your CV that you are the curator of the year, but it is more difficult to stay at the top,” said Flint.
The past season, there have been some phenomenal scores at PPC Newlands in the Momentum One Day Cup campaign, which included 400 for three by the Multiply Titans and 305 for six by the Warriors.
“I guess the new Newlands might help the top and middle order a bit in the sense that you can play on the up more freely.
“But what I like about the ground is that in the first two hours of the morning session on the opening day, the ball is moving around, and only when the sun starts baking down in the afternoon does it flatten out.”
Flint says it cannot be said generally that the team prescribes what the character of the pitch should be. Yet, he is not going to prepare a spinner’s paradise if South Africa’s strengths are their fast bowling.
It can generally be said that the South African team has become more confident and, with England, are arguably the best performing units when the ball is nipping around, Flint remarked.
“If I can have my way, I try to prepare a pitch which will last for four or five days, but it doesn’t always pan out that way, and the atmospheric conditions also play a role,” Flint said