Manners OFF tour

Two months is a long time for anyone to be away from home (yeh, yeh, you’ve heard it all before, but how often have you experienced it?) so forgive me for taking time off to have a pedicure…

Pardon? A what?

Yep, a pedicure – in a beauty salon, nogal, where they served me herbal tea which smelt sensational but tasted of nothing but hot water and where I asked, in all innocence, what a ‘Hollywood’ waxing was and reduced the entire staff to a fit of giggles.

I have just reached a landmark age but this was an excursion born of practicality rather than premature midlife crisis. In England, to keep my mind fresh and body safe form the effects of bacon sandwiches, I ran. Actually, I ran like Forrest Gump, virtually every single day of the tour. Even on travel days, and work days, I ran early in the morning or late in the evening.

The result, apart from a modicum of sanity, was bunions which ripped holes in most pairs of tour socks. So, on return to Cape Town, I decided to have them dealt with. There are probably millions of people in the world with first-hand experience of the delights of foot massage, but now I am one of them and the world will never be quite the same again for me. I’m considering the ‘facial’ next. Just kidding. Hmm…maybe not.

Now for the England tour awards:

Honest moment of the tour: “I was rubbish at Lord’s. Every time I opened a newspaper in the build up to the Test there was a six-inch photograph of me with some caption like ‘Fast & Furious’ and I started to believe the hype. Instead of sticking to basics, I tried to live up to the hype. I let the team down, but I will learn from it.” – Dale Steyn.

Chirp of the tour: “A loaded sandwich.” – Veteran journalist when asked by a nastily over-zelous security guard what he was carrying in his plastic bag at lunch-time during the Oval Test.

Defence of the tour: A similarly smarmy security geek intercepted Proteas captain Graeme Smith and your correspondent as he led me towards the team changing room to conduct an interview at the same venue: “You can’t pass here, who are you?!” demanded the idiot.

“Sorry, he’s with me. We’re going to do an interview,” replies a calm Smith.

“I don’t care – he can’t come past here,” snaps idiot.

“Umm, well, yes he can, actually. I’ll make sure he behaves. Now, Manners, be a good boy and follow me,” says the skipper, unable to control the width of his grin as he brushes the idiot aside.

Scrap of the tour: Andre Nel and Graeme Smith snarling and growling at each other after the wretched one-day performance at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. It was good alright but was just one of many such occurrences on most tours involving passionate, testosterone-fuelled sportsmen. We all knew about it – the pity was that one player felt it was appropriate to mention it to a journalist inclined to publish it. Like two male Ridgebacks, they were set to rip each other’s throats out until one remembered that he wasn’t the boss.

SMS of the tour: “No campaign medal for you – abandoning the tour early, unforgivable!” – Proteas media liaison officer, Michael Owen-Smith, vents his frustration at this correspondent after he checked the weather forecast and returned to Cape Town two days before the final one-dayer in Cardiff. Rain meant just three overs of play were possible.

U-turn of the tour: “It’s nice, of course, it is. It’s not the ultimate or something like that. Actually, maybe it is. It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s incredible, it is a dream come true. I can’t describe it, really.” – Hashim Amla after scoring a century at Lord’s and seeing his name go up on the famous Honours Board.

Another honest moment on tour: “I blame myself for allowing and even encouraging the players to place such importance on the result of the Test series. Whatever happened, win or lose, there was still a lot of cricket to be played after the Tests. Mind you, if focusing on the Tests helped us win then maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. That’s what we will be remembered for.” – Mickey Arthur.

There are more awards, but that’ll do for now…!

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