Archie Henderson

Cricket needs characters

2007-05-08 14:30

Archie Henderson

After the Cricket World Cup trauma, it's time for fun in South African cricket this week.

The annual awards ceremony takes place somewhere in Johannesburg this week and there are - believe it or not - 28 categories for prizes.

Apparently it's usually a fun night, often quite over the top with banners, lights and a fanfare of trumpets.

This year it will probably be therapeutic too, helping to cast out the demons that accompanied some of the nominees from the Caribbean.

Thankfully, the judges have done away with the ridiculous award for an Under-13 player, but they will probably still cling to some later teenage awards.

Exposing young players to such frippery is damaging; the next thing, the poor kid who wins the prize will think these awards are to be taken seriously.

Like most awards at this level, it's an exercise in pleasing the sponsors and ensuring some positive spin in the media.

Having said that, however, doesn't mean there are not some cases deserving of recognition, even if it has to be done in such an artificial way.

Most of the deserving causes appear to have been nominated - Andrew Hall, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis among them.

Pollock is the only player nominated for all four the main categories: Cricketer of the Year, ODI Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and Fans' Player of the Year.

Hopefully, he'll walk away with at least one of those.

I would have been torn between Prince and Hall for Cricketer of the Year, with the vote going to Prince after much agonising.

Hall would get the ODI award, especially after his gritty performances in the World Cup.

He also appears to be one of the few "characters" around.

It's a loose term which is hard to define, but it would apply to someone like Eddie Barlow, but not Graeme Smith.

Shane Warne certainly was a character (and possibly continues to be one though not so much in our limelight at the moment) while Herschelle Gibbs was almost one.

To be a "character" depends on your public image, your spontaneity and ability to think on your feet as much as your batting or bowling average.

Public image is not something you can create in a spin-doctor's laboratory: you either have it or you don't.

There are too many players around today who don't: Michael Vaughan, Rahul Dravid, even Sachin Tendulkar, certainly Glenn McGrath and Kallis.

They are all fine practitioners, it's just that you wouldn't want to spend time with them in Survivor.

Others come close, but just miss the boat: Brian Lara, Sourav Ganguly, Andrew Flintoff.

It always seems there were more characters in the past that in the present.

Ricky Ponting is definitely a character but no other current captain comes close.

Dwayne Leverock was a fleeting character who is already disappearing into the mists of time.

I am uncertain what the other categories of prizes are, but you can be sure there will not be one for "character".

If there was, who would you choose?

  • Archie Henderson is a former Cape Argus sports editor.

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