Dear MS, Cricket and the Madiba Legacy

Dear MS,

Me again. Hard luck during the one-day series. Obviously things didn’t go according to plan in the first two games but Centurion has always been a good chasing ground and you might have regained a bit of confidence if it hadn’t rained, especially with Dale and Morne being rested. Although, obviously, a target of 300 wouldn’t have been easy.

I realise now that you’re not going to say anything about the lack of a third test – and South Africa missing its first New Year’s test since isolation ended (apart from when the team was in Australia.) I don’t blame you. There’s more chance of hell freezing over than Newlands being reinstated on the itinerary, and we wouldn’t want that to happen – your Board president might not be able to escape!

I had this crazy dream that the BCCI might use the passing of Madiba to bury the hatchet with CSA and repair what was once a strong and happy relationship.

Nelson Mandela, of course, was the greatest symbol of forgiveness and reconciliation the world has seen for centuries and I wondered whether his spirit might have persuaded someone at the BCCI to make a gesture. Playing the third test at Newlands with all proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund was a bit optimistic, obviously.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to think that the two Boards might establish something to celebrate the life of the great man in perpetuity? An agreement, perhaps, that future tours by India to this country will include a test match at Newlands – with gate takings going to the Foundation. How about playing the ODI series for the Madiba Trophy? Or naming the test series the ‘Mandela-Gandhi’ Cup?

I guess you don’t see it as your responsibility or job description to make any of these suggestions. I can’t blame you. Stick to the cricket and keep life simple, that’s the sensible play. Leave the honouring and tributes to the two Boards to organise. Let’s just hope someone can knock their respective, collective heads together and make them see sense.

In the meantime, I’m sure you’ve told your batsmen not to take all the ‘sledging’ about the short ball too seriously. Personally, I reckon Dale Steyn is operating a giant ‘double bluff’ campaign. Much as he loves bowling the bouncer and making batsmen jump, he prefers taking wickets.

I reckon you’re all going to get a lot more late-swinging length balls than bouncers, so your boys shouldn’t be too concerned. Morkel is a bit different though. Even when he’s trying to hit the top of off stump the ball tends end up at armpit height!

You are a great captain and a great cricketer and it’s a pleasure to have you here. As I said in my last update to you, we may be upset and angry that you’re only here for such a short tour, but we should be grateful that you agreed to be here at all given the absurd schedule you’ve been handed. No warm-up before the ODI series and now the two-day game before the first test is in danger of being washed away.

See you at the Wanderers.

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