Dale Steyn has a sense of perspective on life (and cricket) not shared by too many of the world’s top players. “Most of us have had our wives or partners here for the last ten days which has been fantastic. We’ve had braai evenings together and movie nights – it’s been like one big family and you never feel alone, even the guys who are single!”
Nothing unusual about that. There are other superstars who might concur (but plenty who wouldn’t, too.) But how many would have the courage to say this: “I really want to be able to tell my grandchildren in 30 or 40 years time that I won a World Cup but it’s more important that I can tell them how fulfilling my career was, how much I enjoyed myself and how many friends I made.”
Plenty of champions reach the top. But the greatest of them, those who can stay at the top, will tell you that such an attitude was crucial to their longevity.
Talking of single guys.
Having escaped the confines of the team hotel for a couple of hours, a member of the coaching staff of the one of the teams here at the World Cup was congratulating himself on finding some space to ‘breath’ beyond the walls of his room and the gym. He spotted a coffee shop and headed for a latte.
Inside he got chatting to a lady who, it transpired, was working as a school teacher for a reputable, international charity. She enjoyed cricket and had been watching the tournament. So the coach offered her and a friend a couple of tickets for his team’s match the following day.
Afterwards, she caught a taxi to the team hotel where she joined the assistant coach and several of his colleagues for a glass of wine. When the colleagues drifted off to their rooms and left the man with his friend, it was time for the hotel security staff and police to intervene.
They demanded that she leave the premises immediately and then snatched her handbag and searched through it, refusing to say what they were looking for. They accused her of being a prostitute and told her not to come back.
The assistant coach was suitably outraged but decided to tackle what he was sure was a ‘misunderstanding’ the following day and tersely ordered a taxi. He brought the matter up with the manager the next day and was told that she would need to bring her ID and copies of her passport if she came to the hotel again.
When she did this it made no difference and she was refused entry to the hotel again – in the name of security. “No squad members can have visitors.”This would be fine but when the assistant coach asked: “So if I paid for a room for her, right now, that would be fine – would it?”
“Yes, of course, Sir.”
So it’s all about security, then. Yes. Except when it’s about money.
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