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This is the sixth of a series of World Cup city and venue guides in the lead-up to the tournament, starting on February 9, 2003.

[ city and venue guide ]

Hosted Countries:

  • Bangladesh


  • Sri Lanka v Bangladesh
  • India v Namibia


  • The Oval


The Pietermaritzburg area enjoys a temperate, climate with warm to hot and humid summers and mild winters. Midday temperatures generally hover around 25 to 30 degrees centigrade. Late afternoon thunderstorms are common during the summer months.

Winter weather is beautiful with endless still, sunny days, but does cool down considerably during the evenings.


Beyond the reach of moisture - laden coastal elements, these vast landscapes are our Zulu Kingdom's 'Eshayamoya' - 'where the breezes blow' - across soft, rolling hills and through deep, secluded valleys...ruffling great rivers and dams, and sporting with the rainbow-spray of dramatic waterfalls. Here lie the experiences of country living at its most elegant and refined...wide open spaces dotted with horse studs and cattle ranches, guest farms and welcoming, quaint communities.

This all - pervading, unmistakable sense of style and grace radiates from the historic heart of our 'City of Flowers' - Pietermaritzburg. One of the Kingdom's twin capitals, and listed among the 'most important high - character' cities of Africa, the park - and garden - filled metropolis exudes a gentle, sophisticated charm. Often called 'a little piece of the Old Country' - thanks to the many fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture - its name bears witness to a past more complex than may initially appear. First Boer, then British laid claim to this strategic settlement...having dispossessed the Zulu people of their 'Place of the Elephant'.

Mahatma Gandhi began his 'spiritual apprenticeship' here...the last hopes of a Napoleonic dynasty passed through these streets...a locally - held relic of the Great War displays a 'miracle' every year and the city features prominently in former president Nelson Mandela's 'long walk to freedom'. It's not altogether surprising, then, that more than 50 National Monuments beckon within easy strolling distance of the century-old Town Hall...along with five splendid museums.

The 'youngest' of these is dedicated to our world famous, annual test of human endurance - the ultra - distance Comrades Marathon - born here 80 years ago to honour the camaraderie of World War One's fallen and veterans. Two water - borne sporting spectaculars also attract men and women of iron from around the globe. Pietermaritzburg hosts our continent's largest agricultural and community jamboree, while burgeoning leather and aluminum manufacture is garnering keen interest from abroad. A long - established center of textile production lies further afield, accessed via the self - drive route of artists' havens, cottage industries, antiques and eateries known as the Midlands Meander. The most extensive - and inclusive - of its kind in the country, the hundreds of listed 'stops' form more than one gigantic shopping expedition...although you'd be hard pressed to leave empty - handed! Golf, trout fishing, hiking and biking are featured outdoor activities, while opportunities abound to learn new skills...from campanology to cooking extravagantly. There's far more than a day trip on offer here, so overnight in ultra - sophisticated or rustic surrounds - or somewhere in - between...the choice is immense and yours!

'Live in harmony with nature and with one another' is the Midlands Motto - we look forward to extending our neighbourliness and welcoming you to our slice of the Zulu Kingdom's wide beauty, deep history and high culture.


  • Restaurants and nightclubs
  • Casino, Cinemas, and Art Galleries
  • Craft markets and Museums
  • Golf, Fishing, Hiking Trails.

Pietermaritzburg is also 45 minutes from Durban (Kingsmead), and Durban International Airport is in easy access of the city and links with regular flights to all the major venues of the World Cup.

More information can be found at

The Oval:

Capacity at the ground is around 12 000.

The Headquarters of the Maritzburg Cricket Association are at The Oval, which is situated in the beautiful park-like surroundings of Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg.

A charming and picturesque character ground rich in history and tradition, the Oval was recently upgraded at a cost of approximately two million Rand and in the 2002/03 season we will see an international match with Pakistan, Sri Lanka or India. Following this the 2003 World Cup will see the Bangladesh side based in Pietermaritzburg and cricket enthusiasts will be privileged to watch two Pool matches and an official warm-up match on the beautiful Oval.

An attractive feature is the Jubilee Pavilion which was officially opened in 1899 to commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee - based on the same design as the ground at Chesterfield in Derbyshire, the pavilion was renovated recently and is in extremely good condition. Another unique feature is the adjoining bandstand where the military and civic bands would play in the relaxed leafy surroundings.

Yet another unusual feature is the enormous tree situated inside the boundary on the actual playing field - joining the St Lawrence ground in Canterbury Kent, where a giant lime tree occupies a regal position inside the boundary. Local rules apply and any ball struck onto the tree counts four runs, but to score a six the ball must be hit right over the tree without touching the foliage.

Historic matches played at this wonderful venue provide interesting information such as the one played in 1860 between Durban and Pietermaritzburg - this was the first cricket match in South Africa to have score card details recorded and Durban won by three wickets.

In another memorable game in 1898, the first opening partnership of over 300 runs in South Africa was recorded by Captain R. Mainwaring (193) and L. Lowndes (117) who put on 303 for the first wicket for the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in a match against The Civilians.

Cricket was officially based at the Oval in 1892 when matting wickets were used until the first turf pitch was laid in 1935 when Vic Richardson's Australians visited South Africa. Apart from regular inter-provincial fixtures the Oval hosted renowned teams such as New Zealand, Australia and England and, since renovation the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and others.

In the early days non cricket events were staged at the Oval, among them being the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1935, the Natal v The All Blacks rugby match in 1928 and the official welcome to the Royal Family in 1947. Other sports such as golf, swimming, athletics, boating, soccer, cycling and boxing also took place.

Notable personalities have been Jackie McGlew and Nummy Deane, both of whom captained Natal and South Africa at cricket, with other well known personalities included Neil Adcock, Chris Burger, Roy McLean, Cuan McCarthy, Vintcent van der Bijl, Johnny Lindsay and his son, Dennis, D. P. Conyngham and, of course, our very own Jonty Rhodes.

Today the Oval boasts eight splendid turf nets while the actual playing surface has a table of eight top class pitches. In addition to this, the English Sheldon drainage system consisting of submerged pipes and numerous gravel bands will ensure quick and speedy drainage after heavy rainfall.

And so the grand old lady, The Oval, will once again feature as a very important ground on the South African and International calendars and long may it continue.

The seventh World Cup city and venue guide will appear next week, featuring Durban.