David Warner, it was suggested during the first Test at SuperSport Park between South Africa and Australia, is no Rhodes scholar. He may, though, be a “Roads” scholar for that may be how he thinks it is spelt. Warner is not a man whose off-field intelligence is held with high regard.
The headline that spoke of the “Warner slur” could not have been closer to the essence of the man. Even when sober, this most talented of batsmen speaks with all the sense of a man three sheets to the wind. He does not have a problem with booze, as he rather forcefully emphasised after his attempted smack to the face of Joe Root during the Ashes. That makes the daftness of his ball-tampering accusations against South Africa and AB de Villiers in particular, all the more disgraceful. They were at best contrary to the tough, respectful spirit this Test series is being played in; at worst they were defamatory and deserving of a sanction. If he was drunk, they may have been easier to understand.
Motivation. It can be the hardest thing in the world to find, and, sometimes, it can last just about forever, but it can also be the easiest thing to lose, sapped and forced out by nagging, negative doubt.
You cannot ride the Absa Cape Epic without motivation. You also cannot ride it with a knee that aches in the morning when you limp down the stairs and hits you at the worst of times when you pedal. The worst of times is when you have to wait for the pain to start, and then, when it doesn’t, you think you may have gotten over it, only for it to come upon you as your confidence returns and your motivation is slowly rebuilding from the careless – no matter how well-meaning – slap down it had taken the day before.
On Wednesday last week, Clyde Travis, a freelance sports writer for the Chicago Sun-Times, reported on the basketball match between Curie High School and Hyde Park High School. He wrote: “A well-executed game plan by Hyde Park nearly derailed No1 Curie in the semi-finals of the Public League playoffs before the Condors pulled out a 58-56 victory Wednesday at Chicago State University. After walking off the court, Curie coach Mike Oliver said, ‘We were lucky we won the game in spite of ourselves. This team needs to remember who Cliff Alexander is…’
“Alexander breathed a heavy sigh of relief going into the locker room. ‘Give them credit,’ he said. ‘They came to play and I respect that. We were not focused the way we should have been and almost lost.’”
The magic wand of healing for the Absa Cape Epic is a rolling pin. A rolling pin that smells of Arnica oil and not a little pain. The magic balls of healing are a rubber cricket ball and a smooth hockey ball. They smell of rubber and impart a fair amount of discomfort.
These are the tools, the wands and the balls, that are being used in an attempt to sort out a niggly knee pain when I ride that I have managed for the past six months by ignoring it. It has reached a stage where it is impossible to pretend that it is not there. Drugs don’t work … well, they do, but they’re not the best thing to take. They mask the pain, allow you to push a little harder through the creaking, rubbing and tightening you can feel under your kneecap. But then, it gets too much, and on a hill in Durbanville during our Team Absa training camp, it reached that stage.
It was the best of days, it was the worst of matches, if you were a South African. The fourth day of the first Test between the Proteas and Australia at SuperSport Park may just have produced the best atmosphere of any match in the country this summer. They came in their thousands, not to bury South Africa, nor to praise them, but to have one hell of a party.
Around 17000, the cap for the crowd for the prettiest, little stadium in the north of the land, arrived on Saturday, pouring out of cars, buses and trains. By Tuesday, the day before the Test started, 14500 tickets had already been sold for the Saturday. The silliness of starting a Test on a Wednesday was necessitated by the schedule, with the quick turn-around between Centurion and Port Elizabeth. If the match had started on Thursday with days three and four on the weekend, we might have had a two-day party instead of a one-day festival.