Common sense and good manners

Dear MS,

There were legitimate concerns before the first ODI that the anger and frustration felt by many South Africans at the prolonged prevarication and subsequent curtailing of the Indian tour might boil over, leading the crowd to take their frustrations out on you and your team. It is a source of great relief to all of us that nothing untoward happened. At least, not to our knowledge.

Obviously there would have been a little bit of what the Aussies call ‘friendly banter’ but, hopefully, none of it ‘crossed the line’, if you’ll forgive another Aussie euphemism. Actually, there were at least as many supporting you and your boys in the crowd so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Proteas copped as much verbal flak as your boundary men.

It does seem crazy that anybody might think you had anything to do with the tour being in limbo for so long and then only confirmed, in its shortened form, at the last minute. In fact, South Africans should really be grateful that you agreed to this itinerary at all.

It went above and beyond the call of duty to agree to play the first ODI at the Wanderers when you’d only been in the country for a few days. It must have been impossible to acclimatise to the extreme change in conditions at such short notice.

To be honest with you, not even those of us who have been covering international cricket since the end of isolation expected to see quite so much pace and bounce. It was almost unfair on you. Almost.

It made sense that you chose your swing bowlers but, and I’m sure you know this, they were a bit short of pace. Is Umesh Yadav fit? He’s a proper fast bowler and, although he can be a bit wild, he might have done alright with all that bounce on offer.

Still, maybe Kingsmead will be a bit drier and flatter. It might even take a bit of turn which ought to make you feel more at home. Although the weather forecast doesn’t look very promising at this stage.

Sorry if I was a little ‘forward’ in my last correspondence. I wasn’t suggesting that you actually asked for a third test to be added to the itinerary.

Just that, perhaps, if you suggested that you and your players would enjoy the challenge, those who have been so materially affected by the absence of the traditional New Year test at Newlands might warm to you and your team.

And who knows – something may have come of it. But never mind. I understand the complexities of the political landscape in India. Actually I don’t, but never mind.

It’s not too late, by the way. Newlands and CSA would still jump at the chance to accommodate you. There’ll be plenty of people who believe there’s no way you’d want to play three tests if they’re going to be on pitches like you had at the Wanderers, but they under-estimate your courage and fighting spirit. So just say the word when you get to Durban and, who knows?

Anyway, your conduct and decorum were exemplary in the build-up to Thursday’s game and common sense prevailed, thankfully. I have no doubt there’ll be even more support for you at Kingsmead and there’s no way you’ll be faced with the same extreme South African conditions.

Good Luck.

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