Careful leaks swamp papers with same ‘exclusive’

The prospect of a 36-40 hour journey from St.Vincent to Cape Town was a little less than exciting for Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Paul Adams, Jacques Kallis and Craig Smith but they forged ahead, nonetheless, driven by the desire to get home after 12 weeks on the road.

Not faced with the prospect of facing the media on my arrival home, however, I decided to break the journey with a weekend in the United Kingdom. I was not alone – Neil McKenzie also chose to linger a while and catch up with old friends from his league-playing days.

Apart from the England team’s remarkable display against Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s, the newspaper headlines have all busied themselves with news of the imminent release of Sir Paul Condon’s first interim report on match-fixing in the global game.

Carefully engineered ‘leaks’ have left all the papers with the same ‘exclusive’. Condon will say that match-fixing started in the mid to late 1970s, that the authorities worldwide were flagrantly neglectful in dealing with or even recognising the problem, and that it is still going on today.

Nothing new there, then.

He will also say that there are certain international and national cricketers in the world who are still prominent, still playing, and either unwilling or unable to stop their ‘part-time’ trade. But he won’t name names for legal reasons. Nothing new there, either.

More interesting has been the reaction to South Africa’s tour of the Caribbean amongst the press and public of a resurgent England who are, of course, on the verge of regaining the Ashes. Or so you would believe.

“Very impressive, yes, but it’s a third rate West Indian team these days and 2:1 isn’t a very convincing scoreline…” runs the general gist. “Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock carried the team and they both perfected their games playing in England…” Well, well. Now you know.

Speaking of Kallis, the latest famous name to emerge on the cricketing horizon in this part of the world is Nicholas Compton, grandson of the great Denis Compton (who is father to Natal’s second best cricket writer, Patrick Compton. Or has John Bishop retired? In which case Patrick is one of the country’s best…)

Anyway, 18-year-old Nicholas Compton may soon be joining an equally famous name, Ben Hutton, in the Middlesex team. Both are grandsons of the men who made their surnames legendary in the game.

Nicholas Compton’s rise was supposed to be top secret but a national newspaper rumbled plans to make his early days pressure-free by dedicating an entire page to the difficulties he would face carrying such a famous name. Thanks a lot.

Middlesex coach John Emburey was furious at the expose and launched a furious counter-attack. “He is just a boy who has a lot to learn. He is a batsman who has modeled himself on Jacques Kallis…and he bowls decent off-spin,” Emburey flared.

Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that Jacques was SA’s promising youngster with a lot to learn? Not these days, not in England, anyway. He is regarded as a great…thanks to playing for Glamorgan and Middlesex!

So when England win the Ashes there will be three teams in a league of their own, South Africa, England and Australia. So much for SA and Australia playing for the title of World Champions at the end of the year.

It’s funny how perspective changes when you visit different parts of the world. Or how different parts of the world have a changed perspective. I’ll be home on Tuesday. Welcome back to reality. And to Alison and Mia…

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