Typical. On the day the Dale Benkenstein announces he has decided to retire from all forms of cricket, bringing to an end a wonderful career by one of the quieter men in the sport, Kevin Pietersen brings out his book on cheese and the world forgets about the other South African in England.
Benkenstein has never been the loudest player. Quietly but strongly spoken, he was once being discussed as a possible future captain of South Africa. He may even have been in the same squad as Pietersen at so-me stage at Kingsmead, before the latter left for England furious at South African cricket. This week, in the maelstrom around the bullying, soul-sear-ching, soul-sucking big cheeses who have been outed in Pietersen’s new book, one small line almost went unnoticed.
On his way out of the country on Saturday night, Daryl Impey bumped into the Springbok team. The two were heading in opposite directions: Impey was flying west to Canada to race, while the Springboks were going east for the Down Under leg of the Rugby Championship.
Impey spoke to Victor Matfield, a keen mountain biker who has considered doing the Absa Cape Epic. On Friday, Matfield greeted Impey’s official statement that he had been cleared of doping charges with a simple: “Great news.” Late on Saturday, he tweeted Impey: “Can’t wait to start following and supporting you again.”
The Google translation of Namibian cyclist Dan Craven’s biography on the Team Europcar site reads thus: Dan Craven. “This is a Namibian cyclist atypical personality and look unkempt. His arrival continues the philosophy of the team: popularize international cycling and provide opportunities for good cyclist from countries that open gradually to the sport.”
That is Dan Craven down pat. Atypical, unkempt and a man who has seen his career burst open with opportunity at a time when, at 31, he may have thought it was all over. Craven was given a contract with Europcar, a World Tour team, and immediately, before he had time to stroke his beard in unkempt, atypical wonder, was thrust into his first Grand Tour, the Vuelta a Espana. And there he was, riding on the front along with MTN Qhubeka to try to bridge the split in the bunch in the fifth stage of the Vuelta on Wednesday.
At 6pm on Saturday, after the heavens opened and turned Loftus and the first Springbok match into a sodden Gomorrah of a mess that not even fire and brimstone could correct, a little African team made a big African dream come true for six Africans.
Sending out a press release to announce the first African team to take part in the Tour de France during a Bok match seemed strange timing. The naming of the nine men in the MTN-Qhubeka squad to take on the Vuelta a Espana, and the six Africans in particular, deserved a fanfare, a celebration and capital letters.
Jen Wilson settled in to watch the second half of South Africa’s semi-final against Australia in Glasgow yesterday with a beer made all that better tasting by the addition of international retirement.
Almost four years ago she was playing for South Africa in a semi-final in the Delhi Commonwealth Games. They lost that semi-final, against New Zealand, and then, heartbreakingly, the bronze medal match against England.