Although it operates under the sponsorship-based name of Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, this cricket ground in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal is more commonly referred to as “Kingsmeadâ€. The 25 000-seater stadium is within walking distance from Durban’s famous Indian Ocean coastline and is the home ground of the Sunfoil Dolphins. The ground incorporates traditional grass banks, as well as towering modern stands.
As the venue of the “Timeless Testâ€ in 1939 (which only ended after 10 days because England had to catch a ship home), Kingsmead has witnessed some of South African cricket’s finest moments. It staged its first Test match on 18 January 1923, a game between South Africa and England that resulted in a draw. Kingsmead has been the host venue for the annual Boxing Day Test, when the Test is held in South Africa, but from the 2013/14 season the match will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
Since the 1980’s, the ground has been extensively redeveloped with new stands at the Umgeni and Old Fort Road ends, but the old main grandstand remains as a reminder of past glories. The pitch is laid slightly below sea level and local folklore maintains that when the tide comes in during the late afternoon, the water table rises, offering unexpected movement to seam bowlers. Many batting collapses in past matches have (jokingly) been blamed on the changes in the tide.
The stadium is used every other year as the finishing point of the Comrades Marathon, the annual ultra-marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Because the marathon alternates directions each year, it only finishes in Durban in odd-numbered years.
Sahara Stadium Kingsmead showcases 8 function rooms ideal for corporate conferences, executive board meetings, product launches, weddings, birthdays, and cocktail parties. It is also able to host outdoor events such as music concerts, festivals, and road shows.