Nice work if you can get it

Thursday night was ‘function night’. There are quite a lot of functions in the working lives of professional sportsmen (and journalists) and they vary a great deal, from the formal ‘stiffness’ of an ambassadorial cocktail party in an embassy to the snacks-and-chats booze-up that can get a bit out of hand.

Last night, hosted by SAB and MTN, was much closer to the second category but it did not get out of hand at all. The players were there, all except Jonty (not playing at Centurion) and Lance Klusener (injured). Even Gary Kirsten flew up from Cape Town to accept an award and show his broken finger to people.

Fanie de Villiers and Pat Symcox entertained a guest list that numbered 350 and they invited Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Allan Donald onto the stage in order to tease them and toss a bit of good natured banter around.

Pollock reminded De Villiers of the time he missed practice, on tour in India, because “…it’s a compulsory practice, not a voluntary one, so I’m entitled to stay in bed.” Gibbs, meanwhile, was reminded of the R5000 fine he received while on tour in New Zealand for unspecified indiscretions (he was entertaining a number of people rather late in his hotel room, apparently) and quick as a flash he chirped: “That was nothing compared to R60,000!! (His match-fixing fine.)

As the players arrived at the beginning of the evening they were greeted by the sight of 320 autograph bats; they were issued with a cokey pen each. Some of them grumbled, but they knew what they were in for and happily spent the next three hours drinking, snacking, chatting and signing. They genuinely seemed to have a good time, which was great for the members of the public that won a Highveld Stereo competition to “meet their heroes”.

Just as someone remarked how “good” the players were being, a smiling, contented representative of the sponsors said: “And so they should be at R10,000 per man.”

The team, of course, are paid for every one of these ‘performances.’ Nothing wrong with that, not at all. Just an interesting thought to keep in mind. Being paid to have a good time. Nice work if you can get it.


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