Unaccustomed as I am to lavish praise (either giving or receiving), please forgive my inevitably clumsy attempts to have a go at it here. You were, by all accounts, quite brilliant in the way you led the negotiations with Lalit Modi and his IPL executive and the results will become apparent to everyone very shortly.
I have spoken to most of the chief executives at some stage during the last couple of days and, to a man – and a lady – they were fullsome in their praise of your leadership and your negotiating skills. Elize Lombaard, Northerns chief executive, told me you had been ‘brilliant’ and that all the Franchises owed you a debt of gratitude for what would be a ‘significant windfall’ for them at the end of the season.
I have also spoken to hoteliers, travel agents and even the lady who runs the coffee stall below the commentary boxes at Newlands, and they are all cock-a-hoop at the extra revenue and opportunities that you have single-handedly given them. Well, OK, maybe not single-handedly. But you were at the centre of it and we all know what a tough businessman Mr Modi is.
Personally, I would also like to offer my congratulations and thanks – it seems likely that I, too, will benefit from a little extra freelance work. I was looking forward to a family holiday (as you probably were!) after a hectic seven months but I’m certainly not complaining.
By now you’re probably thinking that there is a ‘but’ on its way. The good news is that there isn’t! I do have a question, however. Why all the denials in the build-up to the announcement? Secrecy, yes, absolutely essential. No doubt Mr Modi insisted on making as many of the announcements himself as possible. But the denials didn’t work.
On Friday, March 20, you held a conference call with half a dozen people regarding the possibility of staging the tournament. The day afterwards you issued a media statement denying any knowledge of the IPL and even went so far as to say you had no idea where the speculation was coming from. (It’s easier to keep a fart in a box than a conference call.)
On Monday 23rd March a colleague of mine from NDTV in India was told by Mr Modi that he was flying to Johannesburg to meet you. He then phoned you two minutes later and you told him you had no idea what Mr Modi was doing and had no knowledge of any meeting.
Make no mistake, if Mr Modi was offering to stage his tournament in my back yard and there was as much at stake as you had to contend with, I would not only have jumped through hoops for him – I would have provided the hoops, too, and ensured that they were his favourite colour.
My only concern is that, in future, you might consider using different language when you have your hands tied with the media. There are many, many ways to say nothing without actually saying nothing. Come to think of it, you should have a listen to some of interviews with Premier League soccer players – they are brilliant at the art.
It’s just that, categorical denials of something we all know to be true don’t do you any favours. And there will always be that little doubt the next time the media ask you about something.
But the last word remains unchanged – the last four words, in fact, and they are: Thank You & Well Done!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.