Personal choice

It comes a great relief to most of us when someone helps with a particularly hard decision, or even makes it for us which allows us to blame them if it goes wrong.

But there are some decisions that just can’t be made by someone else.

Playing cricket in Zimbabwe at the moment is one such decision and there is a serious danger facing South Africa’s cricketers at the end of this month – and the cricketers from another six countries in February.

There are two choices – and only one of them is the right one. The first choice is this: “Do I go or do I stay?” That is the right choice. The second choice is: “I’ll do what I’m told and leave the decision to someone else.” That is the wrong choice.

Nasser Hussain said the other day that cricketers “couldn’t be expected to make an informed decision.” Whilst it’s easy to understand what he means, it did sound as though he was saying all cricketers were too stupid to have an opinion on anything outside the game, let alone something so important.

Errol Stewart, of course, proved that was not the case when he made his choice this week not to go.

I know, for a fact, that at least two other players in the SA ‘A’ squad have major doubts and concerns about going for the three matches at the end of January – but they must reach a decision in their own minds or it could haunt them for years. At least one of those players is trying hard to do that, as Stewart confirmed:

“Someone who was named in the A side contacted me and asked for advice on what he should do. He’s a young player and he’s just broken through to that level. If he was to take a stance like mine he may be told he will never play international cricket. He’s got to marry up his cricket ambitions with his morals.

I would never prescribe to anyone what they should do – it’s up to the individual to make that decision. You need to have a good idea what’s going on in Zimbabwe, and just reading a newspaper isn’t going to do that for you.”

On the one hand, sport must prevail over tyranny, of course it must. On the other, if everyone left it up to everyone else to make a stand against tyranny, nothing would ever change. Sportsmen can fall easily into both categories, but they must decide where they stand.

It is simply not in their own, personal interests to ‘abstain’ and it is, and should be, unacceptable to those directly involved in the crisis or conflict that is affecting sport at that time in history. Just know yourself and be true to yourself.

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