Johannesburg

Take a tour of the Imperial Wanderers Stadium

16 Nov 2020
Match day at Imperial Wanderers Stadium
Match day at Imperial Wanderers Stadium
The scene for some of the most iconic high scoring cricket matches of all time, Joburg's Imperial Wanderers Stadium has a special place in cricketing history, and the stadium now offers tours. 

For many the most memorable moment was the thrilling 2006 record-breaking ODI (Aus 434/4 – SA 438/9), where South Africa successfully chased the highest ever One Day International score with just one ball to spare. And for others it's AB De Villiers' astonishing innings in the Pink Day match in 2015, where he blasted his way to the fastest century in One Day history, racking up an incredible 149 off only 44 balls (he also made the fastest 50 here too one year later).

But beyond the records, the Wanderers also holds a special place in the hearts of cricket fans for its inimitable atmosphere. Fondly nicknamed The Bullring for its loud and close arena-like set up and enthusiastic crowds, it's an intimidating atmosphere for any visiting cricketer to step onto and always a memorable place to watch a match from the stands.

For any dedicated follower of cricket a chance to go behind the scenes at the stadium on a guided tour is a must!

Going behind-the-scenes at the Wanderers

Inspecting the pitch preparations on a cloudy day

Tours start at the entrance gates with an introduction to the stadium's colourful history and its important place in the development and transformation of cricket in South Africa. Originally located in downtown Joburg (where Park Station now is), in 1956 the current stadium was built on the edges of the Wanderers golf course in Illovo. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the stadium was significantly enlarged with the newest stand named the Unity Stand in honour of the end of racial segregation in South African cricket.

From here, it is onwards to the players' areas where all the magic happens and which are usually totally off-bounds to all but cricketers and their support teams. Cricket nerds will love the chance to visit the scorer's box where a dedicated team makes sure all the scoreboards are updated as soon as the umpire flicks his hands, and of course there's the umpire's box where the third umpire and the match referee sit and makes those all-important Not Out decisions.
 
Walking down the famous Bullring tunnel

On a tour you'll also get to go inside both the home and away team's changing rooms and get in some prime selfie moments. The changing room of the visiting players is notably smaller and darker than the home team's bright surroundings with their panoramic view of the pitch – another reminder if ever you needed one of just what a challenging atmosphere it can be for visitors coming to the famous Bullring.

From here it's on to the pitch – but not without getting to take your glorious run down the famous Bullring tunnel first! Here there's the chance to learn more about the incredible work of the groundskeeping team who make sure that the Wanderers remains a world-class stadium, including of course an introduction to that most specific science of how to give the crease the right amount of bounce to last five days. 
 
The commentary boxes in the media centre

Budding young cricketers with stars in their eyes will love the chance to see the stadium's indoor training areas (on our tour we spotted a few stars from the Imperial Highveld Lions preparing for their upcoming matches) while at the end of the tour we couldn't resist the chance to sit in the commentary box on the very top of the stadium and pretend to be Michael Holding marvelling over Rabada's latest deliveries.

A treat for cricket addicts, no part of the stadium is left uncovered. A fitting end to the tour after walking through the fascinating museum displays on the upper levels of the Unity stand, is a visit to the most epic boardroom where the walls are lined with the glittering trophies of past victories. An experience that will leave you more than hungry for a return to live sports once the world has recovered from the pandemic.
 
Commentary box views from the media centre

HOW TO BOOK A STADIUM TOUR

Unless there is a cricket match taking place (or if the ground is being prepared for one) stadium tours are available every day at 10:00 and at 14:00. Guided tours last around one and a half hours and must be booked in advance. 

Weekday tours cost R100 per person, kids R30, pensioners R50. Tours on weekends and public holidays cost R150, kids R50, pensioners R50. Kids aged under 8 can join a tour for free (up to 2 kids per adult in the group, extra kids will pay R15 each).

The stadium also has various function rooms that open onto the ground which can be hired for events such as birthdays, weddings and other celebrations (and include catering options).

To book a tour call +27 11 340 1500, whatsapp +27 67 419 2768 or email info.bullring@cricket.co.za

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