Port Elizabeth brass band silenced during play


Port Elizabeth’s signature brass band was told to pipe down – not for the first time – much to their own and the crowd’s dismay during the second day’s play at St George’s Park.

The umpires first silenced the band during the second session, which responded by leaving the staidum. In the lead up to tea, this decision resulted in the loud chants of “we want the band,” from the crowd inside the stadium. The band returned in the over after tea to cheers and immediately began playing as Josh Hazlewood bowled the second over of the evening session. Play was stopped twice in that over as the umpires, Kumar Dharmasena and S Ravi, who is standing in place of an ill Chris Gaffaney, met to discuss their options. The band stopped and started sporadically during the over, which ended with the caught-behind dismissal of Dean Elgar.

While AB de Villiers made his way onto the field, match referee Jeff Crowe, who has had his fair share of work in this series with four disciplinary issues, addressed the umpires. The band restarted after that, during and between overs. The third session is traditionally when the band play their loudest, often accompanied by song and fanfare.

The band is popular among South African fans and players and former wicket-keeper Mark Boucher leapt to their defence on Twitter. “The next time 100000 people at The great Eden Gardens, start making too much noise(which is far more deafening than St George’s), please can officials stop the game. Ridiculous! Wake up Dharmasena! You should know better, you played!” Boucher tweeted.

Amla confirmed the umpires had asked both the batting and fielding sides about the band because the officials felt the music was disturbing them.

Players on both sides indicated the band was no bother to them. “I love my music, so I’ve got no problem with that,” said Mitchell Marsh, who revealed that he played tuba in school, while Hashim Amla confirmed the batsmen were also unaffected. “The band thing didn’t affect any of the batters,” he said. “When you are batting in the middle, you’ve got more important things to worry about it. It didn’t spoil any rhythm.”

However, the band is not to everyone’s taste, especially not match officials. In December 2016, in a Test match against Sri Lanka, the band was told to play during breaks and not while play was on. Sixteen years before that, in 2000, New Zealand’s batsmen complained that they could not concentrate because the music was too loud and the band was asked not to play during their innings. They were allowed to play when South Africa batted.

Silencing bands is not uncommon in cricket, with umpires Sri Lanka’s papare bands frequently facing silencing over the last three years. Perhaps the furthest extent of silencing was when, during the 2007 World Cup in West Indies, musical instruments were banned from stadiums.

The band’s treasurer, Cole Ingram, told SEN radio that the band spoke to the match officials in the morning and “had a good understanding of what’s expected from us during the day,” but that the umpires said they “can’t hear anymore because of us,” in the second session. He called it “impossible,” to restrict the playing to be between overs. “That’s our purpose, to entertain the crowd. And at the moment we can’t do that,” Cole said.

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