High-scoring lowdown

2009-10-29 00:00

FOR once, with this review I resolved to read this book cover to cover instead of just skim-reading (for R4,40 you didn’t actually think Witness reviewers read the whole book, did you?).

The main reason was that, with this being the book of my ex-boss and mentor, recently retired Witness sports ­editor of 35 years, John Bishop, along with Tiki Dickson, the review was a terrifying prospect for obvious reasons.

Happily, reading the whole of ­Talking Balls was no chore at all — and overwhelmingly a pleasure.

There is some very, very good ­writing in this book, a compilation of mostly contemporary sports writing by some of South Africa’s leading sports journalists, and a few up-and-comers.

These may be stories, as the title of the book suggests, more centred on the light-hearted, but any sports ­journalist will tell you that writing with ­humour is the most difficult, and those that can do it are the most skilled.

And concentrating on the lighter ­moments also gives the reader a ­greater insight into what occurs behind the scenes.

Neil Manthorp’s diary of the Proteas’ historic, victorious tour of Australia and Peter Roebuck’s analysis of the tour provide imagery that can make a reader feel like they were there, hours after the stadium lights had gone out as the South Africans sang songs not entirely flattering towards their hosts.

Roebuck’s intellectual profiles of Hashim Amla and Makhaya Ntini not only give insight into their character, but also what they have meant to sport.

The urbane Edward Griffiths and flowing writing skills of the late Peter Robinson that are as easy as Ernie Els’s swing, and Andy Capostagno’s well-constructed and enjoyable features and interviews all add tremendous weight. Robinson’s poll with Jo’burg hookers on who would win the 1990 Currie Cup final is outrageous.

Then there is the pluck of youth in Dan Nicholl and The Witness’s own ­talented and outspoken Lungani Zama (who has managed to raise the ire of both Arsenal and Liverpool fans in ­recent weeks). Other contributors include Mark Andrews, Lolly Hornby, Ben Trovato and Chris Keal.

These are punctuated by many of Bishop’s own stories. Some are behind-the-scenes pieces, such as a story on a media cricket game that is as entertaining as a Test match report. Profiles of some of KwaZulu-Natal’s greatest personalities like Ian McIntosh, Vince van der Bijl, Henry Honiball, John Smit, Dick Muir and Barry Richards are of such a high quality, and so dripping in knowledge and information, that it ­becomes easy to see why Bishop is ­regarded as one of South Africa’s most respected sports writers.

I laughed out loud a lot while reading this book, though mostly was bowled over by the quality of the writing.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.