Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson

A disconsolate Graeme Smith offered no excuses after another dismal bowling performance helped Pakistan limp to a thrilling one-wicket victory in the fourth match in Dubai on Friday.

Dale Steyn conceded 79 runs in his 10 overs playing his first game for over two months after injury and the skipper said that rust was inevitable.

“He’s been out of the game for a long time and we need him to get back into it, we need him to be playing to get back to his best. I’m not going to sit here and criticise any individual – we had more than enough runs on the board. 275 was a winning total but we didn’t win and we should have.”

Asked by a Pakistani journalist whether he thought the ‘home’ team were making a “comeback”, Smith replied that he – and his team – had never under-estimated Pakistan and were never distracted from their ability by a weak start to the tour.

“They have a lot of talent and a few key players who can win games.”

But he knew his bowlers, who conceded 12 wides in a generally shabby display, were more responsible for the result than Pakistan’s batsmen.

“We need to build them up as well as pointing out all the things they need to improve on. We haven’t bowled well for quite a while now and confidence is so important in sport. Hopefully, they can start getting it right in the final game!”


It’s a puerile and immature exercise pointing out pieces of journalism from around the world which are written in an “interesting” way because we are all liable to make mistakes and it’s tempting fate to point out the errors of others. But sometimes the temptation is irresistible, so here goes – from a golf report in the Gulf News quoting Colin Montgomerie on Tiger Woods:

“I am sure with the form he showed at the Ryder Cup he’ll be back with a vengeance next year, winning Majors again and will get to Jack Nicholson’s record.”


It was like old times for a morning at ICC Headquarters on Thursday as I arrived for a meeting with old friend Haroon Lorgat. Actually, I lie. Lorgat had enough sympathy for my driving and navigation woes on tour so far that he insisted on ‘picking me up’ in town and allowing me to follow him to work. There was a mismatch of note between my Thrifty hire-car and his fancy 4×4 but we made it.

“You’ve got no chance without a GPS in this part of the world,” he advised on arrival. “I wouldn’t have stood a chance without one when I got here.” Thanks very much for the advice, Haroon. Now that I’ve down 1000+ kilometres extra.

His office is, actually, a suite with a lounge area and panoramic views of what will become the largest and most divergent sports complex in the world – Dubai Sports City. But is largely a vast, dusty building site at the moment barring the ICC’s two cricket grounds and the Global Cricket Academy which is leading the way ahead of the Manchester United football academy, the tennis complex, hockey astro, Butch Harmon golf academy, athletics track, multi-purpose 15,000 seater indoor arena… can’t remember the rest. Oh, the Formula One track is just next door.

The ICC’s chief executive postponed two staff meetings as we caught up on the affairs of world cricket chatting about everything from the Test world championship, 10-team World Cup, two-division ODI promotion and relegation and general way forward for the world game. One day I might even be able to quote him!

Then it was onto Dave Richardson, general manager-cricket, whose office is considerably smaller. Having just arrived back from holiday, ‘Swinger’ was keener to chat on the golf course and asked his secretary to enquire about the availability of tee-times at the Ernie Els course adjacent to the offices, given that it was the weekend. Yes! 10:30am Saturday.

Finally, onto the great Vintcent van der Bijl’s office. In charge of the administration, monitoring and logistics of the ICC’s umpires and match referees, big Vince is working harder now than at almost any other time of his career. How ironic that he was appointed by the ICC after taking compulsory retirement from CSA!

It was a bad morning for Vince and he was doing little to conceal his mood. The night before had seen Pakistani 3rd umpire Zameer Haider give AB de Villiers out, stumped when the rest of the world could clearly see that he was in. Both Richardson and van der Bijl have worked tirelessly pursuing the improvement of umpiring standards and then one moment of bizarre irrationality is captured in every match report written and printed around the world. Vince can’t comment publicly – these are best dealt with internally, apparently – but it seems that Haider thought he saw movement on the stump cam before de Villiers was grounded in his crease. In other words, he made a ‘gut feel’ decision which is contrary to everything the 3rd umpires have been instructed to do. Evidence, evidence and more evidence has been the mantra.


Tom Cruise has been in town for the last few days promoting the latest Mission Impossible film. Apparently he has been doing loads of ‘normal’ stuff in between press conferences and photo shoots – like shopping in the gigantic Malls. And sure enough, there was a huge crowd gathered outside a clothes shop in the Mall of the Emirates when I went to buy my children a twin-screen DVD player the other day. (You hang the screens on the back of the front seats in the car to keep them occupied on long drives.) A bargain at R900, I thought. Good Christmas present. Fortunately, they never read my columns.

The shop was locked, security men were everywhere and the crowd of several hundred were trying to take pictures through the shop windows. Eventually, the doors opened and the crowd was forcibly parted. Out walked – an Indian man with interestingly trimmed facial hair and an entourage draped in bling. Bollywood singer. Never seen or heard of him before. But I was very much in the minority. In some parts of the world, Hollywood is nothing, and this is one of them.

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