Ali barred Syed from presidential suites

By Roger Friedman and Benny Gool

Rehan Syed doesn't like cricket, he loves it. Born in cricket-mad Pakistan, he claims to have represented the Zambian national team.

More recently, his involvement with the sport meant watching the action from presidential suites at cricket grounds around South Africa - until United Cricket Board of South Africa managing director Ali Bacher hit him for six.

"I sent out a directive to all the provinces not to entertain him in their presidential areas," Bacher told reporters when they phoned to confirm a bizarre story involving the gift of a fancy wristwatch from Syed to Bacher's wife, Shira.

When the Pakistan national team toured South Africa about two years ago, Syed turned up at the Kingsmead ground in Durban in the company of King Goodwill Zwelethini. It was here that he presented Mrs Bacher with the watch.

According to Bacher, Syed often hung around with members of touring parties, particularly the Pakistanis, and often arrived uninvited in the presidential areas for major matches.

Bacher became suspicious of Syed's credentials and, after receiving the watch, contacted the Pakistan High Commission in South Africa. He was told that Syed had nothing to do with the diplomatic mission.

"I advised my wife not to wear the watch, and she never did," said Bacher, who had the watch returned to Syed and sent the directive barring him from presidential areas.

Bacher added that he had raised his concerns about Syed to a cabinet minister, with whom Syed appeared to be on friendly terms. He refused to divulge which minster, but reporters have confirmed it was then Minister of Sport Steve Tshwete.


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