An almost forgotten legend

In 1977 Test cricket was 100 years old.  My father bought me a little paperback book, published by the MCC, brim-full with Test match statistics.  The centre pages of the book featured an all-time best Test XI, as voted for by the MCC members.  I was chuffed to see one of my boyhood heroes, Barry Richards, as one of the chosen eleven.  I was shocked, however, to see another South African in the team I had never heard of: Aubrey Faulkner.  I tried to find out more about him, but without much success.  After all, it was the time before the internet. Earlier this month these memories came back to me when I read that Faulkner had been inducted into the ICC’s Hall of Fame.  Spanning 144 years of international cricket, only 103 players (men and women) have been honoured in this way.  Faulkner is the fifth South African to… Continue reading

The Lord’s Hundreds

The famous Lord’s cricket ground has hosted 130 Test matches, with the first held in 1884. During that period there have been 240 centuries scored with each hundred being recorded on the honours board for posterity. The first South African to score a century at Lord’s was Percy Sherwell, way back in 1907. During the recent Lord’s Test there was a short documentary by Nasser Hussain on the topic that 10% of the centuries scored at Lord’s have been by South Africans not playing for South Africa. The first was by Tony Greig in 1974, and the last was the recent Test when Devon Conway made a double century on debut. The discussion was why such a high percentage of the hundreds were scored by South Africans playing for other countries and why South Africa could not retain these world-class cricketers? The answer lay in the political problems of South… Continue reading

It’s not only the IPL

India is home to more than 100 indigenous sports.  Of these, kabaddi (“touch rugby without a ball”) is the most famous.  Depending on which sources you believe, even chess is said to have its origins on the sub-continent.  For centuries sport was only a past-time and the country more known for its religious virtues and Mahatma Gandhi. Cricket was only introduced to the country in 1858 when the British colonialists arrived.  The sport quickly grew in popularity, but apart from producing players like Bishen Bedi and Sunil Gavaskar, India was never an international force.  In 1983, everything changed. It is no understatement that when Kapil Dev became the first Indian captain to lift the cricket World Cup on 25 June 1983 at Lord’s (they defeated the mighty West Indies by 43 runs), sport in India and cricket in the world changed forever. In 1993 the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) received its… Continue reading

The SJN hearings to begin in July

The Social Justice and Nation Building (SJN) hearings, being chaired by Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza, are scheduled to begin at the start of July. The hearings were scheduled to start during May but have been suspended until July to ensure that all legal questions have been dealt with properly. This all happened after Graeme Smith’s lawyer, David Becker, a former legal advisor of the International Cricket Council (ICC), wrote a letter to Adv. Ntsebeza with his concerns on behalf of Smith. Does Cricket South Africa (CSA), with all its challenges, still need to have SJN hearings at this stage when the game is at its lowest level in its history in world cricket? The SJN hearings will only bring further division in the game and will not contribute to an already fragile unity because of politics and factionalism. The South African Cricketers’ Association has for the first time asked for the… Continue reading

How to bamboo(zle) the MCC

When I grew up, I thought bamboo only had two uses:  To make kites and get a caning at school.  I was wrong. Scientists at Cambridge University have discovered that not only kites and canes can be made from bamboo, but cricket bats too.  Bamboo bats are apparently stiffer, harder and stronger than those made from traditional willow wood.  The scientists claim that bamboo bats have a much larger sweet spot.  One of the difficulties of traditional batmaking is finding the sweet spot in a chunk of willow.  It takes a very skilled batmaker to make a bat with the sweet spot in, well, the sweet spot.   The study also found that it would be much cheaper to make bamboo bats.  Firstly, there are the costs associated with cultivating willow trees.  A willow tree typically must be around 15 years old before it can be harvested.  The foresters, however, cannot… Continue reading

Money threatening team sports traditions

There is little doubt that money is threatening the traditions and existence of team sports as we have known it over the years. There is more than enough evidence that cricket, rugby and football are selling their souls and traditions for money, with no respect for fans and traditions. Let us start with cricket. There are now three world cups that will take place over the next three years. The two ICC T20 World Cups scheduled for India in 2021 and Australia in 2022, and after that the traditional ICC World Cup, also scheduled for India in 2023. Three world cups in three years! The ICC cannot be serious about the integrity of the World Cup Cricket brand and its rich 46-year history. They are using the World Cup tag for financial gain only, with little respect for the game, its traditions or its fans. In years gone by, the… Continue reading

The dummy’s guide to The Hundred

After plans to run the competition for the first time last year were scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the inaugural season of The Hundred is due to take place in England from 21 July to 21 August.  The competition will be contested by eight city-based teams:  Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers (Leeds), Birmingham Phoenix, Trent Rockets (Nottingham), Welsh Fire (Cardiff), Southern Brave (Southampton) and the two London-based teams, London Spirit and Oval Invincibles.  Every team has a men’s and women’s side. Each team is to be made up of 15 players, of whom three are overseas players.  The men’s teams have each been assigned one England centrally contracted player and two players who have performed well in recent T20 Blasts.  The rest of the squads were signed up in a draft system.  The women’s teams are made up of two England centrally contracted players, three overseas players and other England… Continue reading

Have the Proteas regressed under Boucher?

Former South African opening batsman, Alviro Petersen, on social media expressed his opinion that the Proteas team has regressed during the tenure of Mark Boucher. This has led to a tsunami of criticism against the former Proteas opening batsman. He is right, but coming from Petersen, who is a highly controversial character, it is no more than an outpouring of emotions against him. During the Boucher tenure, the Proteas have played eleven series – three Test series (England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan), three ODI series (England, Australia and Pakistan) and five T20I series (England twice, Australia and Pakistan twice). The Proteas won two of the eleven series, against Sri Lanka in a Test series and Australia in an ODI series; they drew the ODI series against England. During this period, the Proteas played 33 international matches, losing 21, winning 11 and one with no result. Boucher alone cannot be blamed… Continue reading

Sport and politics, again

This past week, for the umpteenth time, I listened to two knowledgeable fans unload about why they are not interested in watching our main sports anymore. People today just do not care about the Proteas, Bafana Bafana or the Rainbow Cup.  This is not because the Proteas lost badly against Pakistan, or Bafana Bafana losing out on the Africa Cup of Nations finals again.  In sport, you cannot win all the time; we accept that.  No, the fans’ apathy has something to do with a disease that has been around for a long time:  Politics.  Or as an Afrikaans newspaper scribe recently called it “Politikus Gatvolivitis”.  Sport is supposed to unite us.  The rugby World Cup song aptly describes it: “The World in Union”.  This unity was strikingly demonstrated earlier this week in England.  In an unprecedented show of unity, the fans of England’s six biggest football clubs stood together… Continue reading

Three centres of power the problem for cricket

Cricket South Africa (CSA) finds itself struggling for survival, both on the field and in the boardroom. So, what has gone wrong with the national game that was strong and a cricket body that was once respected throughout the cricketing world? The three centres of power are the problem, with no one sure who actually administers the game in South Africa. There is the CSA board of directors, consisting of provincial presidents and independent directors. Then we have the President’s Council which consists of the fifteen presidents of each province. Add to this the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) and the triangle of power is completed. SACA operates under the banner of a trade union, but it is a centre of power because it has input and demands into the strategies of South African cricket. From time to time, SACA has threatened CSA with legal action on certain decisions.  … Continue reading