No joy in verdict

UCB vice president Robbie Kurz looked bleakly at a handful of journalists in the quiet of the adjourned courtroom in Pretoria on Wednesday and asked: “Are there really any winners in a situation like this?”

The game in South Africa has been bleeding for 18 months. Supporters, players and administrators have all seen a steady trickle of enthusiasm, belief and even interest in the game dripping away.

Judge Frank Kirk-Cohen was remarkably firm in his judgement and did not even shy away from personal comment. “He cast aside the honour of captaining his country for the shadowy pleasures of bookmakers money,” the judge said in his judgement.

Will it be the last time we have to hear a judge, an official or anyone else for that matter make such statements? What a pleasure that would be.

The cracks in the South African game through which our generalised enthusiasm and interest is leaking away must be filled in, not just papered over, and that will take a great effort from both “sides”.

Those that believe the ban was right and should stay in place must follow the lead of the UCB and not gloat over their “victory” because it is not a cause for celebration. And those who believe it is wrong and unjust must find it in themselves to accept the court’s ruling and stop looking for someone to blame.

“Life” sentences are hardly ever life sentences – instead they usually mean “an appropriate period of time.” In cricket that has never meant for than two or three years. Five, tops.

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