Dear Herschelle and Nicky

Please excuse the ‘open letter’ format, guys, but I know you don’t like talking about this subject and it’s the only way I could think of to offer a different perspective. Actually, it’s not so much a different perspective as a plea: Please, please reconsider your approach to touring India.

Refusing to return to the country where you were implicated in match-fixing five years ago simply doesn’t make any sense. Apart from anything else it reflects very poorly indeed on you and on South African cricket. The fact that your bosses have attempted to seek indemnity for you is a source of deep embarrassment to all of us.

Any police force in the world has the right to question any person entering that country if there is a suspicion that they may have been involved in, or witness to a crime. In fact, it is not their right – it is their duty.

Are sportsmen subject to a different set of rules than the rest of us? How would we feel if an Australian rugby player, for example, refused to return to South Africa because a SAP officer wanted to question him about, say, a credit card scam?

It would be one thing if the player was guilty and openly admitted that he didn’t fancy the South African justice system, but Nicky – you have always vehemently protested your innocence of all charges. Please just humour the Indian police and allow them to question you.

As for you Herschelle, your partial involvement has been dealt with by the cricket world and is over. Incidentally, do you know how many convicted players have spent time in jail in India? Do you know how long the likes of Mohammed Azharrudin spent in jail? Not a single minute.

Guys, the South African High Commission in India has promised not to let you out of their sight. If you were required for questioning by the Delhi police then SA’s High Commisioner would accompany you and make certain that nothing dangerous or even unpleasant happened to you.

Incidentally, as you may remember, I spent a couple of hours in an Indian jail after having a misunderstanding with a young policeman who wouldn’t allow me into the stadium at Cochin in 1997. It really wasn’t that bad – they even made me a very pleasant cup of tea.

But seriously, gentlemen, my point is this: don’t allow people to influence your decision by scaring you with tales of how retarded and dangerous India is. It is not. A fifth of the world’s population live in the country – it is a near miracle that it functions at all, let alone as efficiently as it does.

Nicky, you lost the vice-captaincy because you refused to tour India last year and, if you don’t make yourself available for the one-dayers in November and the ICC Champions Trophy next year you could be turning down as much as R400,000 in match fees, commercial rights and prize money. Same for you, Hersch. Why would you want to do that? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Some people have pointed out that the Delhi police are playing a game with you. The man who organised the ‘sting’ on Hansie five years ago, KK Paul, has now been promoted several times and has become a sort of ‘celebrity cop’ appearing on television chat shows and earning excellent money.

They say that there are more men trying to do the same, via the same route. And guess what, guys. They are right. They are playing a game with you.

And you are the only ones who can end it. all the best for the new season, I hope you both have an excellent one – wherever you do or don’t play! manners

ps – I only write this because so many people ask me to explain the situation, and I can’t.


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