As much as a man may enjoy a cold beer, there are times when he can barely look one in the eye let alone raise it to his lips. Apologies to those for whom the analogy is inappropriate – Hashim Amla loves Turkish food but he also, presumably, couldn’t face the prospect of izgara kebab and ekmek bread every day.
South Africa’s cricketers came to England to win the Test series to put some truly spectacular icing on a cake which had seen them win seven out of eight consecutive Test series.
When that objective was achieved they had almost no idea of the depth of emotion it would generate in them and amongst their friends and countrymen. Ever since it has been a battle to recreate the levels of intensity and concentration which led to the famous rearguard rescue at Lord’s and the victories at Headingley and Edgbaston.
It wasn’t necessarily the fact that there was still a one-day series to be played, it was the fact that it started 10 days later – 10 days in which it rained almost constantly making practise impossible in between two warm-up matches in Leicester and Derby, venues which would remain limp even in the event that Viagra moved their headquarters there.
Graeme Smith refused to make a single excuse after his team’s desperate and embarrassing collapse to 83 all out at Trent Bridge. In fact, he refused even to accept an excuse when it was offered to him. He decided, in consultation with team management, to play through severe pain with the aid of injections because he knew the importance of getting back on level terms and falling 2-0 behind with three to play.
“It’s sore but England played very, very well. They were aggressive and they were much better than us on the day. It’s a hard pill to swallow,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, news was filtering through from Lahore that a triangular one-day tournament was being organised between India, Pakistan and South Africa – in South Africa – in September to take the place of the postponed ICC Champions Trophy.
It would provide an unexpected and undoubtedly massive financial windfall for CSA if it happened, comfortably in the region of R100 million. But Smith’s ‘tennis elbow’ means he would not be able to play while Makhaya Ntini, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher have not had a significant break from the game for almost two years.
SA Cricketers Association (SACA) chief executive, Tony Irish, said that he had not been consulted but admitted that coach Mickey Arthur had told him that the national players were badly in need of a rest rather than more cricket.
“That suggests that we will not be able to agree to a proposal to play extra fixtures,” Irish said.
CSA chief executive, Gerald Majola, was in Nottingham to witness the performance debacle but, according to media manager Michael Owen-Smith, preferred not to comment on any fixtures “…which have not been finalised.”
If they are confirmed (and Majola could be forgiven for agreeing to them if the money was significant enough to make a long-term difference to the game’s future in the country) then, as Smith sees it, “…we will have to delve into the depth we have in South African cricket to find a team.”
As we all know, there is very little depth below the national squad at present. It was a polite way of saying ‘we’ll have to play an ‘A’ team.’
If Majola turns the money down, however, he may become the first international administrator to put players’ interests ahead of the interests of the financial committee.
Watch this space.
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