Political incidents & waterborne vessels

You have every reason to believe that England captain, Andrew Strauss, achieved nothing out of the ordinary by landing safely and passing through immigration in the country of his birth to start the tour on Sunday without incident. But you may not be aware of the political tensions and angst that he caused on his last visit – barely six weeks ago.

When Strauss led the England team to these shores for the ICC Champions Trophy he very nearly failed to board the aeroplane in London let alone make it past the officials at OR Tambo.

On that occasion he arrived at Heathrow with less than the required two blank pages in his passport and was initially told he would not be permitted to board the ‘plane along with the rest of the squad which would have effectively ruled him out of the first game.

Much pleading and begging followed with the ECB agreeing to reimburse the airline for the mandatory R20,000 fine which would be imposed on it by South African authorities on arrival in the country. In the normal course of events the illegal visitor would also have been put straight on the next flight back to London but frantic, late night  calls to the British Consulate in Johannesburg while the plane was in the air ensured a top level diplomatic welcome for Strauss and the handing over of a temporary passport with plenty of empty pages.

“We were all quite certain that lessons would be learned and that everybody would double-check their paperwork but, nonetheless, it was a relief to see everyone pass through the airport without incident,” said a consular official with an audible but invisible smile.

Anyway, he’s here now.

Lalit Modi, meanwhile, continues to explore new and previously unimagined ways to grind the very last cent and rupee out of potential ‘sponsors’ for his IPL. It may well be naievity on my my part, but the temptation to belly-laugh at the latest press release was too hard to resist. Actually, it wasn’t a temptation – it was instinct. Here you go – have a read yourself:

“The Indian Premier League is all set to bring its fans the in-stadia cricketainment and carnival experience at multiplex screens starting with Season 2010. The IPL’s invitation to tender for the theatrical telecast rights will include the rights to matches in the league to be played in Seasons 2010 through to 2019 for exhibition for audiences in cinema halls, stadia, water borne vessels, buses, trains, armed services establishments, hospitals, bars, hotels, restaurants, airports, railway stations, shopping malls, offices, construction sites and oil rigs, clubs, auditoriums, Spas, Salons, Parlors…”

Oil rigs? Construction sites? Does Lalit really think that people employed to work in seriously dangerous places are not only going to be watching IPL, but that they will pay separate rights fees?

And what constitutes a ‘parlor?’ So if hospitals, bars, restaurants and shopping malls can’t show the IPL without paying an extra ‘license fee’, what constitutes a ‘water borne vessel’? Imagine enforcing these ‘rights’! The concept is hilarious. Woe betide the wealthy viewer catching a poolside glimpse of the next tournament from his lilo. Never mind the frustrated fan catching a soothing massage to off-set the misery of supporting the Knight Riders.

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