The St Georges Band in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
The St Georges Band in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Silence please: Umpires clash with band at the cricket

NOT for the first time this Test, the Port Elizabeth crowd is under the magnifying glass - but this time in truly bizarre circumstances.

The brass band at St George's Park helps provide one of the more unique and friendly atmospheres in world cricket - with the band pumping out tunes from before play to stumps, barely pausing for breath during the day.

For the most part they're received well by fans and players alike, helping build the vibe over five days of Test cricket since first appearing more than two decades ago.

But not everyone loves them. And you can count umpires Kumar Dharmasena and S Ravi as firmly in the "haters" camp.

On day two of the second Test between South Africa and Australia the band was told to pack up and go home by the umpires, who wanted a bit more silence so that they could hear what was happening in play - thin edges, and the like.

So shortly before tea, the band packed away their instruments and abandoned the stand they'd occupied for the past day and a half.

They returned after tea, but Dharmasena halted play several times to scold the band - while match referee Jeff Crowe came out for a lengthy discussion, while stadium officials consulted with the band leader.

The brass band packs up and goes home.
The brass band packs up and goes home.

"I don't think I've ever seen this before - going off for loud noise," Allan Border said.

"For me it's quite simple - just don't play during the action, and you play during the down time. There's plenty of down time."

Proteas legend Mark Boucher was unimpressed with the band being silenced.

"The band leaving, cannot be good for test cricket in PE," he wrote on Twitter.

"They've been there for years, supporting their home team. Was great when they got behind us. Every ground and country has their own identity!"

Hashim Amla had earlier made a complaint to the umpires about the band continuing to play as the bowler was running in, arguing it was a distraction.

That may have proved to be the case for the umpires themselves, with Amla given out LBW to nemesis Josh Hazlewood despite there being a clear inside edge. It was overturned after Amla sent it to the third umpire for review.

"Umpire is saying he can't hear any more because of us," band treasurer Cole Ingram told radio station SEN.

"Umpires don't want us to play.

"As you can see on the face of the guys, clearly they're not happy ... they're here to entertain the crowd.

"We spoke to the match official this morning and we had a good understanding from him of what's expected from us during the day, but now all of a sudden the umpires are saying we should stop playing."

It is, however, not the first time the band has been told to shut up - in 2016 former Australian cricketer, turned match referee, David Boon asked them to keep it down during a Test between the Proteas and Sri Lanka.

Boon told the band to play more softly during a bowler's run-up - and the band obliged.

Ultimately, the same thing was afforded the band on Saturday and a begrudging compromise was reached.