This will be a better week. This will be a week in which I will not nitpick and point out that which I believe to be exaggeration, spin doctoring or deflection.
I will not wander on to social media to have a laugh at Cricket South Africa and what I believe is the best bit of distraction ever conceived with one spelling “mistake”.
No. I think I shall let that little tale lie fallow for a while. There are many people who know what really happened on that night in Auckland last month. Some of them have spoken about it to others and those others have spoken to me and others. Some have denied anything of the like ever happened. It’s about reading between the lines and the refusal to revisit the night. Mike Horn did not want to talk to myself and EWN’s Jean Smyth about politics on that afternoon in Shanghai, and, yet, he did. I will freely admit I took the quotes out of context, but that does not make the quotes wrong.
Spelling mistakes are easy to make. Ask the poor buggers who have to sub this column and who will take the blame for anything that is wrong by the time it is published. Spelling “Africa” as “Arfica” takes a special kind of mistake, particularly if that mistake is in the title logo of the new tournament you have just announced.
The “r”, you might say, was taken out of context in Africa. Oh, how we laughed and pointed fingers at Circuit Sooth Arfica. How we giggled at their mistake, gloated over their foolishness and came up with more puns than the sub of this column may be able to read without bashing their head against a middle stump. How we reTweeted, Whatsapped, SMSed and BBMed the bejesus out of the joke, until, as a friend suggested, the slow realisation came that it may not be a joke at all.
“That’s the way to stop the media talking about the World Cup semi-final selection,” Whatsapped a friend, throwing me into an angry frenzy in which I kicked over chairs, a table and handed over the captaincy of this column to my fiancée before calming down and denying said friend had sent such a message at all.
Yesterday, Songezo Jim, a man who less than a decade ago could not ride a bike, took part in the Amstel Gold Race, one of the classics on the European calendar. This kid from Khayelitsha, riding for Team MTN Qhubeka powered by Samsung, was inspired by the Velokhaya riders in the township outside Cape Town while watching the Cape Town Cycle Tour years ago.
He is now competing on the World Tour against some of the best riders on the planet. The motto of his team is “Bicycles Change Lives”, a reference to the Qhubeka programme that aims to put bikes into communities that need them to better lives. Today, at Orlando High School, just behind the Orlando Stadium, Sipho Dubula, will be working his way to getting on a Qhubeka bike.
It is part of Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung’s commitment to fund 5000 bicycles for African students in 2015. Qhubeka is the arm of World Bicycle Relief, a global non-profit organisation “dedicated to advancing education, health and economic opportunities by providing simple, sustainable transportation”. They have handed over some 225000 bikes since they started in 2005.
There are images that will live long in the memory from the last night of the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards in Shanghai. Schalk Burger sr putting Bill Murray into a hug and then a headlock at the bar at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Then watching Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger jr, if one can call him that, talking to Henry Cavill, the latest actor to play Superman about rugby.
One Superman to another, with Burger perhaps the story of these awards, his comeback tale from deathbed to Springbok jersey touched the hearts of many in Shanghai.
Cavill is a huge rugby fan, having played when he was younger, but gave up after an injury.Rugby gave him his start in acting, according to a website dedicated to the man, having introduced him to Russell Crowe.
“The campus of Stowe School where Henry was educated, was being used as a backdrop for the kidnap thriller Proof of Life with Russell Crowe. The schoolboys were playing rugby in the back ground in one of the scenes, and Henry was among them. Having the courage to take a chance, Henry marched up to the movie star and introduced himself.‘I took his hand and said, ‘Hi, Mr Crowe. My name is Henry, and I’m thinking of becoming an actor. What’s it like?’ And we talked just a bit,’
Henry recalled 10 years later at the Man Of Steel film set, a movie in which he starred with Crowe. ‘A few days later I got a signed picture of him in Gladiator that said, ‘Dear Henry, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ You can imagine how I felt when I got to the end of that first journey of a thousand miles and I’m working with Russell Crowe’.”
In the end, as the world mourned and sang the praises of one of the greatest sports commentators we may ever have the privilege to listen to, Richie Benaud’s wife, Daphne, decided she would say her final goodbyes in the way he would have liked best.
She and Richie’s family politely turned down the offer of a state funeral for her husband of 48 years, saying the service would be an understated and private one for immediate family. The service would, then, echo Richie’s commentary. Richie. Not Richie Benaud. All called him Richie.
He was the commentator most admired and imitated. There are few today who come close to matching his ability to say it best in as few words as possible.