A time for overthrowing tyrannies, and optimism, even in the sporting world

2011-02-05 00:00

ON and off the field it’s been an eventful week. Overall the good has outweighed the bad. In the wider world, Australians have been devastated by floods and cyclones and Americans have suffered a freak blizzard.

On the other hand, Egyptians have finally said enough is enough and set out to ditch the country’s loathsome autocrat. Already Tunisia’s leader has fled. The voice of liberty has been heard in Yemen, Morocco and Jordan. Let despots be chased into the sea and let not courage rest till the evil dictatorships have been swept from office. Let the crooks in Harare be called to account.

It is the most promising period since that extraordinary spell 30 or so years ago when the Berlin Wall came down and apartheid was dismantled. In each case the choice has been the same — between self-serving elite and the people they are supposed to serve.

As far as cricket is concerned the news has also been uplifting.

Admittedly, CSA’s senior figures are embroiled in a spat about underhand payments. Cricket is full of them. If Mr Majola has been corrupt he ought to be sacked and prosecuted. If not, then Mr Nyoka ought to resign because he called his CEO a liar without sufficient proof.

In the longer run CSA could learn something from developments in India. Frustrated by the corruption in his local cricket association, an accountant in Kerala filed a court case seeking a ruling that it was a public body and so obliged to publish its accounts. He won the case and the verdict was confirmed on appeal. Of course the authorities are unhappy. Public scrutiny is the last thing they want but the first thing they should seek.

Meanwhile, in Bangalore Anil Kumble, Venkat Prasad and Javagal Srinath won board elections and have taken over the running of their association. Attempts to block past players are stupid. It’s a question of finding the right candidates — the sagacious, not the crowd pleasers.

Rahul Dravid is an ally. It’s been a long time since any sport produced such a fine collection. If men of stature take office elsewhere in India then the game might yet bounce back. But the world is full of shadows.

If anything the news in South Africa has been even better. Of course there are a few gripes here and there. Everyone has grizzles …

But consider the headlines appearing this week. Hashim Amla has predicted that Johan Botha will be the Proteas’ key man in the World Cup. Reflect on that. An Indian and an Afrikaner in the same team and utterly relaxed about it?. A spinner forecast to shine for South Africa? Don’t take these things for granted.

Another column observed that Imran Tahir might present a few headaches for gloveman AB De Villiers. Come again? South Africa has a leg-spinner? And a player with a Pakistani heritage? Despite frequent stumbles, the melting pot comes closer, the diversity that scares a few and inspires so many.

Another story reported that Wayne Parnell had signed for Sussex. It was not so easy for Basil D’Olivera. Apparently the left-arm speedster is hoping that a stint in county cricket will help him recapture his rhythm. He might be right. All the great West Indian pacemen played for counties, and all swore that bowling every day helped them to keep fit, improve skills and avoid injury.

Next came an article about Lonwabo Tsotsobe. Apparently the Scarlet Pimpernel always used to turn up in the nick of time. For those unaware of his activities he (the Pimpernel) was the debonair chap who rescued aristocrats from the Guillotine. He was like Superman without the cape but with a horse. He always appeared at the last possible moment.

The genial left-armer (Tsotsobe) could hardly have timed his arrival any better. With Makhaya Ntini fading, South African cricket was desperate to find a replacement capable of holding his place in the side and showing that the national team represented and reflected the country at large. Things looked bleak until Tsotsobe popped up to take 36 wickets in 19 ODIs at an average of 19. It’s too early to get carried away and his Test figures are unflattering, but the early signs are encouraging. Not that there is any room for complacency.

Finally comes news of a talented 20-year-old batsman called Temba Bavuma currently impressing good judges in domestic cricket. Let’s hope he comes through. Let’s hope De Villiers, JP Duminy, the great Jacques Kallis and company strut their stuff in the World Cup. And let’s hope tyrannies are overthrown.

• Peter Roebuck is an international cricket correspondent who is based in the KZN midlands.

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