Most conversations with Mark Boucher start with “Howzit” and end with the word “rhino” in them somewhere.
The conservation of the rhino and the halting of the poaching of these creatures, has become Boucher’s post-cricket life, a passion as strong as that which drove him during a playing career that saw him leave the sport as the most decorated wicketkeeper in the history of cricket.
One of the comments under a report in the Times of India this weekend headlined “BCCI rules the world, Srinivasan to be ICC chairman from July”, summed up the feelings of many in the sport: “God save cricket”.
God, for all the times that he-she-it-they is-are asked to intervene in sport, has never quite come to the party, unless, of course, you are on the winning side.
A colleague tells a story of watching Kevin Pietersen when he played a match for KwaZulu-Natal in his time at the union at the beginning of his career. He claimed a catch that had bounced, quite clearly to the few in the ground, well in front of him. He wasn’t even going for one-hand-one-bounce. His teammates grimaced and shook their heads. The catch wasn’t given.
Not long afterwards Pietersen ended his tortured career as a cricketer in South Africa and took off for England for a tortured, celebrated and colourful career as a cricketer in England. When he returned to these shores as an English player in the summer of 2005, Shaun Pollock was asked what he thought about Pietersen playing for another country and what he remembered about him. Pollock’s reply was that, as he recalled, Pietersen was an offie who could bat a bit. Had he suggested that Pietersen was a bit off and a bit batty, he would have been more on the money.
The last time I was in the executive dining rooms in Block A at the Nedbank headquarters in Sandton, I was asked to leave by two security guards. I was dressed to the nines in shorts, takkies and a T-shirt, for a function to announce the field for the Nedbank Golf Challenge. I was the only one in shorts. I was the only one in a T-shirt. I was the only one in takkies. The guard said there had been a complaint about my dress code. I replied there was no such dress code on the invitation. There might have been. I never read past the time and date, and the bit that says, “drinks and snacks will be served”.
We had a quick exchange, which went nowhere. The two then proceeded to begin to march me off the premises. I looked around for help, and a few metres away, spotted Andy Scott and Greg Garden of Nedbank laughing fit to choke. As stitch-ups go, it was one of the best.
The way to a cricket board’s heart is through its pockets, and on Wednesday the Bangladesh Cricket Board, one of those who had opposed the position paper foisted upon the members of the ICC and world cricket, folded. And then there were three – South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The next round of “negotiations” with the dissenters have already begun. This is no negotiation, according to what an insider from one of the Big Three told ESPN Cricinfo, but a bargaining to see just how much it is going to cost them to buy votes.