Match fixing and murder most foul

A lot has happened in the last week. Australia have lost four in a row and the predictions in my previous column are about to come true with an inaugural Twenty20 ‘Champions Trophy’ set to be staged in England in September.

But the fact that eyebrows have been quietly but suspiciously raised at Australia’s abject humiliation by Bangladesh and the Titans, as domestic Pro20 champions of South Africa, have been invited to fly the national flag against five other teams later this year paled beside one other piece of news. There is attempted murder in process.

The intended victim is South African cricket and the chosen method of death is paralysis. The perpetrators are, I’m sorry to say, the Griqualand West Cricket Board and Griqua Diamonds Limited.

Before you log off and read something less ‘political’ and more interesting, just hang around for a couple more paragraphs.

Griquas have filed a High Court order against 24 respondents. That’s twenty four. All the franchises, the provinces, the companies that run the big stadiums (Wanderers, Newlands and Kingsmead), and of course, the United Cricket Board. But wait – there’s more!

The High Court order also names the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) and the two men who conducted the independent franchise review, Professor Kadar Asmal and respected lawyer John Smith. But wait – there’s more!

Griquas have also named their very own sponsor, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited as the 24th and final respondent. I can’t be sure but I suspect this is the result of the multi billion dollar company having the temerity to suggest that Griquas might, actually, consider joining Free State in forming the Central Franchise rather that fighting for their own.

But if that sounds radical, you might like to consider the consequences of naming the Minister of Sport and Recreation as the third respondent. In short, if you haven’t been named as a respondent on Griquas’ High Court order to paralyse the running of South African cricket and Cricket South Africa, you can officially consider yourself a nobody in the game.

The stadiums, the unions, the players (SACA), the administrators and even the Minister are expected to down tools while the urgent court interdict is heard. It is Griquas against the rest, odds that most would find rather more than daunting.

In fact, the battle would appear to be so one-sided it has assumed the proportions of an epic Greek tragedy.

Griquas couldn’t single handedly halt the running of the game, surely. Could they?

Griquas President Ahmed Jinnah will, reportedly, submit an affidavit to the High Court in which he will claim that Kadar Asmal and John Smit’s review process was flawed and therefore its conclusions are invalid.

Earlier, you may remember, he and his union claimed that the United Cricket Board and Cricket South Africa were also fundamentally wrong and irresponsible in the manner and process they employed to select the six franchises in the first place.

The trouble is, having filed (and then ‘paused’) a different High Court order to prevent the inaugural franchise season from even taking place, Griquas agreed to the review process and co-operated with it. Now, it seems, they are unhappy with the findings and recommendations and the toys have once again left the cot.

Interestingly, at the last UCB General Council meeting, the recommendations of the review committee were passed by a vote of 16-0. What? What happened to Ahmed Jinnah’s Griqua vote? He abstained.

The Minister of Sport, you may remember, was easily won over a couple of months ago by Griquas powerful argument for an independent franchise because of their record in development. Now he, too, is being targeted.

So now Griquas can’t find a friend for love nor money. They even appear to have turned on their own sponsor.

For years and years I used to watch television news stories of suicide bombers in Iran, Palestine, Israel and more recently Iraq. All I could think was ‘sick bastards’ and I would find it easy to hate them.

It wasn’t until I was forced to imagine how desperate, angry and lonely one would have to feel to actually strap on a bomb, walk out the house and say goodbye to the world and everyone in it – including those you were about to kill, women and children included. Pretty desperate, I’d say.

So, Australia-Bangladesh? The looming prospect of an international, domestic team 20-over competition? Not this week, thank you.

As I flick through a copy of the Court Order on my desk once again, I am struck by an overwhelming tide of sympathy for Griquas cricket and the people who run it.

For as long as I have known them, they have spoken with total passion and commitment about what is “best for cricket.” Now they have decided to try and kill their own baby

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