The City Oval in Pietermaritzburg is one of only two first-class cricket grounds in the world that have a tree inside the boundary. Situated in a leafy area, there are also plenty of other trees off the field, creating a relaxing environment for spectators to enjoy a game of cricket.

Did you know?

The only other first-class cricket ground in the world with a tree inside the boundary is the St Lawrence ground in Kent, England.

The relatively small city of Pietermaritzburg has produced some exceptional cricketers in recent decades, including Jonty Rhodes, one of the best fielders to have played the game, and Kevin Pietersen, who has punished bowlers around the world while playing for England.

City Oval, the city’s premier cricket ground, hosts regular first-class, club and school fixtures during South Africa’s warmer (September to March) months. It has often been described as one of the world’s most picturesque cricket grounds and would likely host more international matches if it had more seats.

This ground hosted some matches during the 2003 Cricket World Cup, including the clash between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh during which Sri Lanka bowler Chaminda Vaas took a hat-trick with the first three balls of the match.

It is a great venue for families, with large grass embankments for children to host their own matches while parents enjoy the action in the middle.

The Oval is the home ground of the KwaZulu-Natal Inland first-class team, which regularly plays four-day and limited-overs games there. The ground has floodlights, and day/night matches are always well-attended, particularly 20-over-a-side fixtures.

The pitch generally favours batsmen, allowing for some big scores.

The Pietermaritzburg area is home to some of South Africa’s top sporting schools, such as Maritzburg College, Hilton and Michaelhouse, which often play day/night matches at the City Oval.

The large tree on the boundary provides an interesting challenge for both batsmen and fielders. According to the ancient laws of the game, four runs are credited to batsmen who hit the ball into a tree within a boundary, regardless of whether the ball would have cleared the boundary for six or whether the fielder would have been able to save the boundary had the tree not been in the way.

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