No one should ever underplay the seriousness of the plague of violence that threatens South Africa week in and week out, but we can at least be thankful that violent crime played a significant part in giving Andrew Hall to Test cricket.
It may be an old cliché but moments of life and death really do change people’s perspectives and provide them with a renewed and far healthier set of priorities.
Four years ago Andrew Hall was shot at six times by muggers at an ATM machine emerging with a bullet lodged in a hand, a grazed cheek and shrapnel in an eye. And a significantly raised heart rate for a while.
Then, two months ago, he was driven around Johannesburg in his own car by a couple of gun-toting maniacs threatening to shoot him.
Once again, the heart was given a pretty thorough fitness test, as were his priorities.
So when Hall walked to the crease in his debut Test with the scoreboard reading 92-6 he didn’t collapse in a heap of nerves and tension and flash meekly at a wide one.
No, he looked around and saw green grass and open spaces, he heard laughter from the stands and he saw smiling faces.
Two things were certain – he was being paid good money to fulfil a lifelong ambition and nobody was going to be able to mug him, rob him or hijack him in the middle of Newlands.
No wonder he looked a little more calm and relaxed than most debutants.
So while nobody wants to see our national players have a pistol held to their head in a pasta restaurant, it is possible to share other peoples’ experiences and be inspired by them.
Steve Waugh, for example, was mesmerized by the experiences of Alison, the lady who had her throat slashed and was disembowelled by attempted murderers in Port Elizabeth several years ago.
Left for dead, she crawled back to the main road and survived. Her book, “I have life”, is extraordinary. Waugh is trying to arrange for her to give a motivational talk to his team.
South African sportsmen need perspective, and creative ways to inspire them should always be welcomed.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.